Who’s Stealing Your Joy?

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.”

Psalm 51:12

Go back with me to the eve of Christmas Eve several years ago.

The dark of night descended, all boys settled into the routines of bedtime. I escorted Andrew to his room for stories and snuggles. His open blinds reminded me to close them. I reached for the cord and stopped. “Whose van is in our driveway?” I shouted from upstairs.

No one answered back. The van in our driveway was white. My van was silver. Steve drove my van to work that day to get the oil changed. Where was my van and whose was this?

I went flying down the stairs demanding an answer. When I wouldn’t let up, Steve released a sigh, handed me a tiny box, and said, “Merry Christmas.” The tiny box held a set of keys. The keys to a brand new van. The keys I was to unwrap the next morning.

I ruined the surprise. I stole his joy.

It was a once in a lifetime kind of surprise. We are used car kind of people. Steve bought me a brand new, white Honda Odyssey. Steve’s love language is gifts. Steve receives more joy in giving gifts than receiving. Steve loves to spoil me and shower me if I let him. I’m much too practical and budget-minded, so I stifle his desires to pour out his love language on me at times.

I raced outside to see my elaborate gift. For me all the excitement was the same. This wasn’t the case for Steve. I’d stolen his joy unintentionally. And I’m much too clueless to have discovered the gift and played along because it never crossed my mind he would give that type of gift.

Have you ever faced a time you felt your joy was stolen? Not simply that you lost your joy, but it was taken right from you?

This is what the enemy is out to steal from us. Our joy.

I battle against this frequently. The enemy is constantly attempting to steal my joy. And yours.

When I teach my kids, it doesn’t take long to see the enemy’s plays.

The fight is exhausting. Fighting the same battle over and over again wears us down. The battle wages in our minds.

Do you find yourself fighting to maintain your joy?

The enemy uses his same schemes over and over again. The more we know who God is, the more we recognize when the enemy is assaulting us.

We can fight back by putting on our armor and picking up our sword. Claiming authority over the enemy in the name of Jesus. Our identity is in Christ. Our joy is found in Him. We need to pray and ask Him to restore the joy of our salvation. We need a shift of perspective. Our eyes on Him.

In case you didn’t know, I’ve written and recorded a devotion on releasing our fears and anxieties by learning to see God for who He is. It’s a practice in remembering who He is and keeping our eyes on Him. It’s called Illuminate. Download your copy today for only $5.

Find out more here and listen to a sample.

audio devotional
If you want to connect with me beyond the blog, you can find me on Instagram and Pinterest. I’d love for you to follow me there. Instagram is where I share shorter insights and daily inspiration and encouragement for the journey the Lord has you on.If you’d like to receive these blog posts via email, hop over here where you will receive some fun downloads.

And if you are looking for ways to claim the fringe areas of your home or give gifts that inspire and encourage, check out my online shop!

 

When the Seasons Change. And When They Stay Too Long.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,”

Psalm 103:2

Last winter I lived my first Midwest winter. I’ve always been cold-natured, so I was quite terrified how I’d fare. I did decent until winter seemed a bit too cozy to make its exit plan. Fall has always been a favorite season of mine, but I’ve found myself dreading it because I know the looming winter in the draft of fall’s race.

Steve offered me a perspective shift. I’m convinced we all need people in our lives who will alter our perspective. He reminded me how I moaned and groaned at the end of Southern summers. I itched to put out pumpkins, prepare soups in the crockpot, and lounge in my hoodie. Yet, it would be 90 degrees sometimes all the way until October. There were Thanksgivings we wore shorts. And I complained.

We move to the Midwest. Basically winter here is like summer in the south as far as the length of the season. Same problems.

I’m in a new season of life. Maybe you are too. Some seasons of life feel like they hang unwelcome far too long. Until they pass. Then we look over our shoulder and long to go back.

I find I reflect back on prior seasons with a sense of romanticism. Wanting to go back to a time when….Believing times were better when….If only I could…..

When my soul is crowded, there is a sense of discontentment. A longing unfilled because there’s too much clutter and noise.

I looked back at old journals, a habit I have. I found writings from previous August and Septembers. I had the same struggles then. Little time to write, shallow feeling quiet times, a longing for more quiet in my life, a need for more structure yet finding the new rhythms hard to adjust to. When I think back on past fall seasons, I don’t remember them the way I recorded them.

I remember differently than life actually happened at times.

Why am I remembering seasons not the way they actually happened? Why am I thinking I have it harder now and believing I should go back to a time when life served me better?

The Lord brought a passage of scripture to mind.

I stopped walking. I stood frozen. My heart gasped. I am an Israelite.

“If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” Exodus 16:3

How quickly they forgot what their previous life was actually like. How quickly they forgot the misery, hardship, and the goodness of the God who saved them by His mighty hand.

I’m no different.

I have seen the hand of God, the work of His miracles. I’ve watched Him care for me, deliver me, love me radically. And yet the moment I don’t feel the way I want to feel, I incline my ear to the whispers of the enemy.

The enemy throws hard his taunting darts at my head.

You’re failing.

You need to make a change.

You’ve missed your opportunity.

You aren’t important.

You can’t keep doing what you are doing.

Look at everyone else. They are doing it right.

The enemy is full of lies, doubt, fear, worry, anxiety. There is NO truth in him. Not an ounce. He’s a lie from beginning to end.

God is total truth. God is steady.

My Lord and my God. He is all I need. He has given me all I need.

I find the moment I’m too comfortable the Lord moves me into a new assignment. One that requires I lean more into Him than me. That is where I am right now. Again.

How about you? Do you find you long to sit in the place you feel most comfortable?

Lord, we confess we forget your goodness. We forget the work of your mighty hand. We forget who you are. May we remember. Lord, help us forget not your benefits. You are radically, wildly in love with us simply because you are love. You give based on who you are not what we do. Lord, we love you. Grow us in our faith. Make our minds steady and strong.

In case you didn’t know, I’ve written and recorded a devotion on releasing our fears and anxieties by learning to see God for who He is. It’s called Illuminate. Download your copy today for only $5. I truly believe it will bless your soul. The Lord has used it repeatedly in my life since writing it. I go back and listen and find He speaks fresh all over again.

Find out more here and listen to a sample.

audio devotional

 

If you want to connect with me beyond the blog, you can find me on Instagram and Pinterest. I’d love for you to follow me there. Instagram is where I share shorter insights and daily inspiration and encouragement for the journey the Lord has you on.If you’d like to receive these blog posts via email, hop over here where you will receive some fun downloads.

And if you are looking for ways to claim the fringe areas of your home or give gifts that inspire and encourage, check out my online shop!

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Those dreams where you find yourself naked on stage

In my dream I was the star role of a play. The lead. The first show was a smashing success. The 2nd show was one week later. I’d not rehearsed one single time in the entire week. We stood backstage, moments before the curtain went up. I panicked. “Wait! I can’t remember the opening line! What is my line?”

Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. They were prepared and calm. I was not. My mind raced trying to recall that first line. “Just give me the first line and it’ll spark the rest. I have to get this right I mean the first time went perfect.”

They all continued looking at me.

I stopped and I prayed. “God, it’s you not me anyway. Please work through me and speak through me. I don’t know what I’m supposed to say.” Then I fled to the bathroom with mere minutes left.

Because dream world is just strange, somehow I lost track of time in the bathroom. It hit me as I looked in the mirror that I might be late and they might be waiting on me. Or worse, the show might be cancelled. Is it true that the show must go on. How would they pull it off if I weren’t there?

I found my way back as the last act played out. It went perfectly without me. The back up lead was there and ready. (It reminded me of that scene in the movie Wonder.)

The director assumed I got stage fright and left intentionally. I explained that I did have stage fright. But not because I was scared to be in front of people. But I was afraid of being exposed. Of everyone watching me stumble and fail with all lights on me. I explained that I lost track of time and was so sorry. She wasn’t bothered in the least.

She apologized that I missed my opportunity. Especially since my parents had flown all the way to Nebraska. I responded that I prayed before the show and the fact that I literally lost track of time and failed to show up must mean that it was God’s plan for the backup to lead the show.

Then I woke up.

I fell back asleep and had a second dream. In this dream our family went to a party. Jacob needed to be at work from 11-2:30. We dropped the ball and didn’t get him to work til his shift was over. He received attendance points against his file due to our lack of preparation.

Then I woke up.

I took a Psych class on dreams in college as an elective. It was by far my favorite class I ever took. Dreams have always fascinated me. They reveal so much of what is going on in our subconscious life.

I could have prettied up my dreams before sharing them here with you. They totally show you the pride and self-sufficiency God is still refining. It reveals my fears of failures (though I often say I don’t fear it. I really do. It’s our secret.) It reveals my need to please, succeed, achieve.

I mean I thought the play would fall apart without me. Insert emoji with the hand over my face. Honestly, it’s how I operate far too often. I feel as though if I don’t do it, it won’t get done or it won’t get done right. This is a form of perfectionism and pride. Over the last year I’ve been praying about this and releasing it little bits at a time.

There’s another message that stands out to me in the first dream. It’s that God’s will will prevail. His plans will go forth with or without me. My failure to participate means that I miss out on the blessing. God will still do what God will do. That play still went on. I just didn’t participate. In the opportunities that God places before me, it doesn’t all rest on me.

I can release myself from carrying that weight and burden He never asked me to carry. He places paths before me. They are opportunities. I can choose to flee when fear speaks. I miss out on the blessing. God’s plan goes forth with other people. Or I can stand in confidence and choose to step out on the stage and trust Him to speak through me when I don’t know what to say. God will be glorified. But what a blessing when we get to participate with Him!

I’m in a season right now of following God along new paths. They are scary. I have to remember it doesn’t rest on me. I need only rest in Him. If I am spending time in His Word and praying, then I can simply be at rest. Step by step I go with Him confidently.

At the home school conference I recently attended, the speaker talked about being ok with the bare minimum. I’ve NEVER been o.k with minimums. I strive for beyond the bar. If I set a goal, I’m rarely satisfied to meet the goal. I want to exceed it. It’s really a poor way to live. We are constant works in progress. Praise God He’s not finished with me yet.

The last 4 months God’s been speaking to me about simplification. I love simple. My mind complicates matters. Too many choices complicates matters. My desire to not make a mistake complicates things.

But in all areas of my life, God has been saying to simplify. I find it ironic that while He’s telling me to simplify, He’s led me into starting two separate businesses at the same time. He’s really teaching me to rely on Him!

I’m noticing how when I simplify, the drive towards perfection is lessened. Maybe this is why He’s leading me toward a simpler life.

Simpler meals. Who needs drastic, gourmet, fancy variety? Honestly, my boys love taco nights, pancake night, and soup night. Why do I strive for more?

Simpler homeschool. That means tuning out the ones driven to have their kids earn everything they can. It’s being ok with focusing on our most important priorities. Simplify. Don’t add in the extra geography lesson, the extra foreign language. Let it all go.

Last year my doctor told me to be ok with good enough.

Good enough. What is good enough? Good enough for who? That is the question. You see I’m the only one driving me to do more than is necessary.

I had a revelation recently that really convicted me. I used to say that I was driven because I cared so much about people I didn’t want to disappoint them. One day it struck me. I didn’t want them disappointed in ME.  It wasn’t really about them at all. I actually cared more that they not be disappointed in me than I cared about their feelings of being disappointed.

When God brings these revelations, they are brought with such sweet mercy and tenderness, I melt. I find it hard to stand in His Presence because He is so good. He is beyond what I deserve. Why He doesn’t’ beat me over the head, I can’t fathom.

Why He doesn’t scold me and call me a selfish brat, I can’t understand. But it’s because He is perfect love. Perfect grace. Perfect mercy. Perfect justice.

He speaks. He waits. He lets us choose and fall. He picks us up. He says “I love you.” He doesn’t’ shame and guilt us. His loving kindness brings us to repentance. And it’s more than I can bear.

My drive for perfection is an attempt to take the throne and receive His glory.

So I lay it down again today. I’m sure I’ll pick it back up. I am human. I will forget.

He will still be kind because He doesn’t change. We will do it again.

I will learn a little quicker each time. I’ll offer myself grace and forgiveness. He offers it first. I’ll take His lead.

I will thank Him. For He is good and His love endures forever.

I say no to fear today. I will walk out on that stage even when I don’t know the words. His play will go on with or without me. I dare not miss the blessings of watching Him glorified.

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In case you didn’t know, I’ve written and recorded a devotion on releasing our fears and anxieties by learning to see God for who He is. It’s called Illuminate. Find out more here and listen to a sample.

And if you want to give gifts or fill your home with reminders of God’s goodness, check out my new online shop!

My heart is to encourage and inspire you to follow God with wholehearted, fearless courage.

 

Do You Want To Get Well?

“One man was there who had been sick for 38 years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had already been there a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to get well?’ ‘Sir,’ the man answered, ‘I don’t have a man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, someone goes down ahead of me.’ ‘Get up,’ Jesus told him, ‘pick up your mat and walk!’ Instantly the man got well, picked up his mat, and started to walk….”

John 5:5-9

Have you ever considered why Jesus asked the man who needed healing if he wanted to get well?

Obviously the man was sick. Obviously he needed what only Jesus could provide. So why did Jesus ask if he wanted to get well?

When Jesus asked this question, the man responded with the reasons he couldn’t get well. He needed someone to get him to the water. People jumped ahead of him while he made his way. Maybe the man just gave up his will and saw only hindrances.

Maybe the man lacked gusto, grit, determination. But maybe not. I really don’t know. I’m only pondering possibilities. What I do know is that 38 years is a long time to be sick! After that long, I imagine my grit would have vanished.

Jesus didn’t simply heal the man before he asked if that is what the man wanted.

I wonder if at times we become so comfortable in our “illness” that it becomes a source of safety for us. It’s what we know. We let it define us and become a part of who we are.

When I say illness, I mean drastic variances of “illness”. Could be physical. Or it could be an illness of the soul. It could be an addiction. It could be emotional. An area of sin. It could take so many forms.

That might sound ridiculous, but I think if you consider it long enough your eyebrows may raise a touch.

I’m also not saying that if you haven’t received healing, it means you don’t want it or that you lack faith. I don’t believe that for one second. God has impeccable timing we can’t understand. He is glorified in us through sickness and in health. And also in death. Sometimes our healing is delayed while we are used in the healing of others. So please don’t misunderstand my point.

There are some things that hinder me in life that are an illness of the soul. They hold me back from full on faith trusting in Jesus. I cling to what is known, even if it’s not what is good for me. Sometimes that feels safer than Jesus.

We can accept so little at times. We are so finite. We settle for what we know rather than reach for what seems impossible. Often we fear the fall of the reach.

Oh why do we do this?

What if we reach and fall? Will He not be there to pick us up? To brush away the debris, to hug away the sting, to hold us tenderly while we mend? Do we not trust that if we fall, He is still there?

But what if we don’t fall in the reach? What if we grab hold of something far beyond what we’ve ever considered? Wouldn’t the enemy do whatever it takes to keep us stuck?

In Illuminate I used this quote:

‘“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
C.S Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

I love this quote. He’s not safe, but He’s good. He’s the King. We must trust Him.

The verse in John speaks to our need to know ourselves. Honestly, know ourselves. As it pertains to our “healings”, do we honestly want to be healed? If so maybe it’s time to pick up our mat and walk. Maybe it’s time to believe God can do the impossible. Maybe it’s time we not only ask Him, but we ask Him to change our hearts to desire the healing. Whatever that healing may look like.

Maybe we’ve never considered that we’ve become comfortable in our afflictions (whatever form they take in our life).

We all need some form of healing. Until eternity, we aren’t complete. We are an unfinished work. Praise God for that!

I’m convinced we can all relate to this man lying on his mat for 38 years. I know I can. How many “illnesses” have I accepted and stayed in. Have I accepted the illness of bitterness because I’m waiting on the other person to do what’s right first? I need to pick up my mat. Have I accepted the illnesses of slave to my cravings? Maybe I need to pick up my mat.

There are many healings we may need, but first we need to look at our hearts and see if the desire is there first? And if it’s not, that’s where we start. We ask Him to change our hearts to desire the healing we need most. Then we pick up our mats and walk it out.

All in His perfect timing.

Those first steps may be terrifying. Our legs may shake and tremble. Remember we are using muscles we haven’t used in awhile. It’s ok. He will strengthen us one step at a time.

Maybe we change what we see as safe? Maybe we shift from safe to good? Aslan wasn’t safe, but He was good. Our King is good. May we not cling to the smallness of what we know and see and instead lift our eyes above and desire His abundance poured over us.

Lord, we confess we are people of little faith. We trust in the things seen rather than what is unseen. Lord, you are King of Kings, Lord of Lords. You are good. You are our healer. May we trust You. If our hearts find safety in our illnesses and sicknesses, may we lay them at the foot of the cross today. We open our hands to You and surrender it all. We ask for healing. Lead us by Your good Spirit. We love you.

If you are new here, welcome. I post about once a week. If you would like to receive posts via email, click over here and receive some fun downloads when you do!

If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know that my heart is to follow God wherever He leads, no matter where that is. Sometimes it makes no sense to me until I take the first step. That’s what has been happening to me. I’ve shared a little here, but a ton on Instagram. God has given me a new assignment. While I’m still writing, He led me to start a 2nd home based business. Right after opening my online shop. The timing is hilarious.

I didn’t understand at first, but now I do. My heart cares so deeply for people and helping them get unstuck. The enemy loves to hold us in the quicksand. God has been showing me how much of our physical health is linked to our spiritual health. And my desire is to help people get unstuck physically in order that their spiritual lives can flourish.

If you want information about what I’m sharing, send me an email. Or follow along on Instagram where I share several times a day.

Thank you for trusting me. I don’t take that lightly and count it an honor and pray I would lead well.

 

 

 

When God is Getting Your Attention

A friend called me several days ago and wondered if I had any suggestions for small inexpensive devotions she could give to her team at a retreat she was hosting for her business.

A tiny little booklet I hadn’t thought of in years popped in my head. I first heard about this little gem from another friend and ended up buying 20 copies of it to keep on hand to offer out as the need arose.  Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles E. Hummel.

She stopped by and picked up the copies I had on hand. I thought to myself, “I should read it again.” But I laid it aside and went about my business.

Last night I hosted the final session of a Bible study I led in my home. We went through Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer.  Can I just pause and say, please do this study. Even if on your own. Good gracious, it will be the thing your soul thanks you for for the rest of your life!

At the end of the video, Priscilla referenced this tiny pamphlet I hadn’t thought of in years. I’ve never heard it mentioned by anyone other than my one friend years ago. And here I sit learning how to better hear God’s voice when she mentions something that has only days before come to my attention again.

My friend sat across the room. Our mouths dropped, we met each other’s gaze with silent gasps. He had both our attentions.

Sometimes God speaks in whispers. But sometimes it’s like a shout in the ear in the middle of the night. Startling.

I climbed into bed with a full heart last night. A Bible study completed that we all stuck to through the summer. Not an easy thing in today’s busy culture. But they showed up week after week. Hungry and thirsty.

I opened that little black book and began reading. I got to a sentence that made in inhale sharply.

“Many of us have experienced Christ’s deliverance from the penalty and power of sin in our lives. Are we also letting him free us from the tyranny of the urgent? In this message he points the way: “If you hold to my teaching.” This is the path to freedom, continuing day by day to meditate on the Scriptures and gain our Lord’s perspective.

P.T. Forsyth once said, “The worst sin is prayerlessness.” Does this statement surprise us? We usually think of murder and adultery as among the worst offenses against God and humanity. But the root of all sin is self-sufficiency – independence from the rule of God.”

I stopped reading immediately. I needed to sit with this. Sleep on it. Roll around in it. Wrestle it down to the ground.

I closed my eyes. The next morning I awoke. I felt the Lord calling me into an even quieter time with him this morning.

I went to my writing room. I left my phone upstairs. I kept the lights low and opened His Word. I prayed. I asked Him to speak to me and let me hear Him. After I sat in His Word, I opened another book I’ve been slowly reading through each morning for the 2nd read through. Prayer – Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller. Absolutely amazing book.

 

Y’all. The very page I was on this particular day said this:

“Prayer should be done regularly, persistently, resolutely, and tenaciously at least daily, whether we feel like it or not. ‘The worst sin is prayerlessness,’ wrote Peter T. Forsyth.”

God had a word for me. Pray.

Last week I told my husband I felt God telling me to get on my knees. Literally. Posture into submission.

One of my greatest struggles is self-sufficiency. I know in my head that God supplies the power I need to do everything I do. Yet, if I’m totally honest, I often get from Him a touch of what I need then race forward leaving Him behind.

He gently calls me back. Wooing me to Him. Tender and sweet.

He tells me to lay down my first born drive and simply surrender it all to Him. Rest. Cease striving. Be still and know that He is God.

Is He calling you to spend more time sitting at His feet? To stop racing to the urgent demands and tend to the most important instead?

If you want to connect with me beyond the blog, you can find me on Instagram and Pinterest. I’d love for you to follow me there. Instagram is where I share shorter insights and daily inspiration and encouragement for the journey the Lord has you on.

If you’d like to receive these blog posts via email, hop over here where you will receive some fun downloads.

And if you are looking for ways to claim the fringe areas of your home or give gifts that inspire and encourage, check out my online shop!

Don’t Miss the Miracle Because It Looks So Familiar

If you’ve been following along over the last couple of weeks, you know I’ve been sharing stories I’ve not shared here on the blog. Today I’m hitting the pause button to share this post. I felt the Lord had someone who needed this reminder today.

Before anyone in my house awoke for the day, I sat with my calendar. I had many plans for this particular Monday. I quickly jotted down all I hoped to accomplish and instantly heard the faint whispers of overwhelm rising with threat in their voices.

Laying my pencil on the table, I lowered my head. No, this isn’t how I want to start this week. I needed a day to catch my breath. The previous weeks were filled with hosting multiple sets of houseguests, running children to all the activities, starting a Bible study in my home, launching a new business. And all the other life stuff.

I am well familiar with what happens in my soul when I run on little margin. It’s not pretty.

I whispered a tiny prayer. God, I give my day to you. Help me to see where you want me to invest my time today. What should my priorities be?

Within minutes of that whispered prayer, my blurry-eyed youngest stumbled into the kitchen finding his favorite barstool.

“Well, hello there.”
“Hi,” he forced out while laying his head on the counter.
“I’ll run out to the garage freezer and grab some waffles.”

Opening the freezer door, warm air greeted me. No welcoming hum sang from within. All the food seemed to be clinging to its final moments.

Frantically, I began touching all the food determining what could be saved and what would be tossed. I instantly calculated the dollars soon to fill my trash bins.

This was all so familiar. A pattern of sorts. I’ve been down this broken appliance road one too many times. I know what to expect. And riding the coattails of this familiar feeling were discouragement and frustration. Feelings of almost giving up on the situation. Ready to throw my hands up, throw in the towel, and be done.

In the last 6 weeks, we replaced our washing machine and vacuum cleaner, repaired our broken refrigerator twice, and repaired the air condition, which chose to quit over a holiday weekend when temperatures hung out at 100 degrees.

I’ve found a fear of broken things taking up residence in me. When something threatens to break, I feel this panic try to set in. I’ve begun to assume the story will be the same with each incident.

I heard another whisper. A gentle one. It seemed to say, “It’s o.k.”

I turned away from the freezer, walked back into my house, and felt a calmness take over and joy rise up. It was the strangest of feelings.

That’s when I heard God whisper, “Just because it’s been one way before doesn’t mean it’ll be that way again. Trust me with your day and situation.”

How many times have I faced situations that seem to come at me in cycles? A relationship conflict, a misunderstanding, a problem that seems void of solutions. How often do I face these with the same expectations each time assuming because it turned out one way in the past, it’s destined to turn out the same way again?

How quickly do I allow discouragement to lead my thoughts rather than hope? How often do I give fear the freedom to speak when I should allow trust to do the silencing on my behalf?

I pulled out pans and began browning meat I could freeze. I turned on the oven and cooked bacon. I plugged in the Instant Pots and had brisket cooking in one and chicken in the other.

The kitchen was a flurry of mess and activity over the next 2 hours. When it was all done, I had dinners cooked for the entire week. Unplanned and unprecedented. That was not on my checklist or agenda, nor would it ever have been. A miracle for sure.

I cleaned up the kitchen and stored away all these unexpected dinner dishes. That’s when I remembered the freezer issue still remained.

I’d made a choice to not believe that because all our other appliances were breaking that it meant this one was doomed as well. I walked with confident assurance to that dusty old freezer.

I looked inside as if I knew what I was looking for. I noticed a seal missing in the back and a crack. Possibly the culprit? But no, I reminded myself. I won’t yet believe that it’s broken based on past history.

I followed the trail of cord to the outlet. So much dust and dirt back there. I moved in slightly closer. It was barely noticeable. The cord somehow had been nudged just the slightest bit out of the socket.

With a gentle tap of my fingers, the familiar hum signaled the freezer’s resurrected life.

I returned to my kitchen and found my calendar and to do lists. As I surveyed the nights ahead, I realized the gift these prepared meals will be to us. More importantly than the meals, I knew God had multilayered gifts for me hidden in what appeared broken and familiar.

He’s teaching me to hold my plans in my open palm. He’s teaching me to listen to His voice before any others. He’s teaching me to always believe and hope in the new things He’s doing. He’s teaching me to look for the miracles hiding in familiar situations.

Today, if you find yourself facing a discouraging situation filled with familiar, open your hands and offer it back to Him. Maybe the time is now to watch Him do something miraculously new.

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19, NIV

 

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How to overcome the overwhelm, achieve your goals, and celebrate victory

 

The last time I posted, I told you I’d share some stories I’ve not shared here before. I feel it’s important to understand some of these stories in order to see where God is leading me now. I also think that in simply sharing these stories, you will find your “me too” moments.

A reader wrote me an email in regards to my post about saying Never. What spoke to her was my admission to my Coke addiction a few years ago. Actually I had a couple people connect with that one. This reader was quite surprised I had a Coke problem.

“I recall that from time to time you’ve referenced talking a walk or a run for exercise.  So in my mind, I just think you’re one of those ‘skinny, healthy, exercising’ people and I allow that to create distance, even if only in my own heart and mind.  I believe this division in my mind is another tactic from our enemy.  He would like nothing more than to cause me to feel strange, ashamed, unable, different, and unworthy.  So, I think that’s why your (seemingly offhanded) comment about Coca-Cola spoke to me.  It was a ‘me too’ moment.” Blog Reader

Ya’ll this struck me straight in the heart. I’ve tossed it around for days now because actually I relate to what she is saying. When I see people posting their beastly workouts or their incredibly out of this world healthy meal, I feel just like this reader. I immediately find I can’t relate to that person. I really dislike exercising. It’s really not fun at all to me. I only do it because I know it’s critical to a healthy life. But I haven’t always exercised.

I only eat healthy (now) because I’ve been working for 13 years on it. And I’ve only just now found something that helps make this so much easier. But it’s been a struggle. (If you want info on what I’ve found, just hit reply to this email or the contact form on the blog. I shared a little on Instagram yesterday.)

Well-meaning people post their healthy lifestyles out of excitement and victory. But at times we receive it in shame, embarrassment, and failure.

My journey started with one conversation. My sister’s friend. She shared about her leaky gut….13 years ago when this was almost unheard of. I mean it existed but no one was talking about it.

I remember the one change I made was how I grocery shopped. To that point, if it were sold at the grocery store, I considered it food. I had no idea what was put in our food. I had no idea that FDA approved doesn’t mean it’s safe or intended to be in our bodies. I had no idea that 75% of what I put in my buggy was actually fighting against me. I had no clue. Until my friend shared her knowledge.

I remember beginning to research and wondering how I’d not known these things my whole life. I remember feeling guilty. I also remember feeling powerless on a daily basis. I felt overwhelmed. How could I “get healthy”?

Another friend asked me what goals I had. She asked me this because I often complained about the state of my health, yet I’d swing through the drive-through or eat the 2nd – or 3rd- piece of chocolate cake. I had 3 goals at that time.

  1. Have a daily quiet time
  2. Drink water (I only drank Coke all day long until after my 2nd son was born.)
  3. Exercise

But guys, this seemed like it was too big to accomplish. I focused first on water. A friend gave me an action plan and held me accountable to it.

Having a friend journey with us makes all the difference. Someone to cheer us on and push us forward.

My friend gave me a plan for how to drink water. I hated the taste of it. I’d pour a glass and “sip” all day making no dent. I’d fill a giant water bottle and stare at it hoping it would supernaturally get into my body.

Here’s the plan she put me on:

  • Wake up and chug a small 8 oz glass of water. Don’t sip. Chug.
  • 8:00 am chug another 8 oz
  • 10:00 am chug
  • Lunch – Reward myself with a Coke after drinking 3 glasses of water.
  • Follow same plan to afternoon
  • Reward 2nd coke after accomplishing afternoon tasks
  • Evening follow same plan

Focusing on small action steps gave me exactly what I needed to take a step in the right direction. For years I spent time focusing on the end goal with no attention paid to what to do to get there because it was too overwhelming.

Small bites. Small steps. Small glasses chugged.

I focused on only that one day. And not even the whole day initially. I segmented the day into thirds, focusing on 1/3 at a time. When I made it through the first 1/3 I felt elated.

Here’s what really began to happen after about a month. When I arrived at my lunchtime reward, I chose to bypass the Coke. When my body was filled with what truly satisfied, my cravings for what harms me decreased. When I had water in my body, I felt more awake and alert. I had more energy. I didn’t want to negate the progress so I stuck with it.

Over the course of time, my 4-5 Cokes a day became 1. Then it became only when eating out. Then it became only when eating pizza or mexican. And then it became never at all.

I have total freedom to drink a Coke. At this point, years later, I don’t have the mindset that I can’t have a Coke. But the desire is totally gone. The taste literally makes me gag. If you told me that years ago I would have doubled over laughing at you.

6 Simple steps to overcome the overwhelm

1. Write down your goal. Be specific not vague. Don’t write “get healthy”. In my case it was “drink 8 glasses of water a day”.

2. Write down specific action steps. I’ve been known to think things will just happen. I trusted in God without participating. Writing how I would drink that water gave me a plan rather than a simple hope that would lead to discouragement and frustration.

3. Have an accountability partner. My friend checking up on me forced me to follow my action steps. I wanted to make her proud.

4. Celebrate the small victories. Then prepare to celebrate the big win.

5. Pay attention. Change happens over time. Often we don’t notice the change because it’s gradual. Spend time looking back and marveling at how far you’ve come. My son struggles to read. Often he focuses on his current struggle and I remind him to look back at where he was a year ago. It doesn’t compare. We have to focus on how far we’ve come then keep on moving.

6. Focus on this moment and this day only. Your goal is longer term, but you just focus on victory for today. Looking at victory forever is overwhelming. His grace is for today. Rest in his daily grace to guide you one step at a time.

So yesterday I posted on Instagram a post I never thought you’d see me post. Remember that whole never say never thing? Y’all we say we shouldn’t say that but we still keep doing it. I have a lot of pride the Lord continues to work right on out of me.

If you aren’t following me on Instagram, I’d love to connect with you over there. It’s the only social media platform I’m currently on. I can offer a little more personal insights and more frequent postings. Here’s my post:

This is my humble pie eating post 🙂 You may be rolling your eyes. I did. Or you may be thinking “That is totally unhealthy and nothing but a fad.” I did.

Gonna be honest, my pride kept me from paying attention a long time ago.

In 1 month:
-My sugar cravings are gone. This is a miracle almost as big as the water to wine.
-I don’t crash at 2:00 & 7:00pm anymore. I have normal, healthy, stable energy all the live long day. No afternoon coffee needed.
-My thinking is clearer and sharper. I’m not forgetting all the little things anymore.
-Not only are my sugar cravings gone, but all cravings are gone. Saying no to unhealthy choices is actually easier when your body is balanced! Who knew??? -All my bloating disappeared. A month ago I couldn’t button a single pair of shorts from last year. I didn’t need to lose weight and didn’t. But all my shorts fit comfortably now! (People who want to lose weight drink it before meals. I drink it after I eat my full meal.)

God made me in such a way that when I love something, I tell everyone. I can’t hold the goodness inside. We were meant to live for others not ourselves.

I did a business similar but not nearly as generous years ago. I promoted to the 2nd highest level of the company, earned the Mercedes, and replaced my CPA income. It was the tool God used in our life to answer the prayer we’d prayed for 2 years – “God, make a way for me to stay home with our kids.” I know it works when you believe and share. It changed our life forever.

Here’s my question for you: Are you looking for something to help you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle? If yes, DM me. I won’t “sell” you anything. I’ll share what I know and trust the Lord to lead you where you need to be.

Here’s my 2nd question: Are you looking for a way to create a 2nd stream of income? Just a couple hundred dollars a month? Or bigger dreams like 10s of 1000s extra a month.
I desire to be a funnel of God’s blessings in all areas of my life – my health, gifts/talents, and finances.

I believe God has led me to this place to lead a team passionate about health and pouring out God’s blessings on the world around us. Join me?

So here’s where I am right now. I’m sharing my heart with you here on the blog. I’m running an online store while working to place physical products in stores. And I’ve started to build a business sharing what I’ve discovered as a breakthrough for people desiring a healthier lifestyle.

Some people are doing all the “right” things but there is a root issue not addressed. They can eat clean, exercise, but still can’t figure out why they have stomach issues, bloating, sugar cravings, migraines, fatigue, etc. And some people desire to do the right things for their health and need someone to come alongside them to encourage them to fight for more willpower.

I’ve been in both of these places which is why I’m passionate to help others.

If this post resonates with you and you want help in this area, please reach out to me. I’d love to help you along your journey and share what I’m learning with you!

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