When you're in a difficult season, it's so easy to feel defeated.
- When your child is a prodigal.
- When your marriage is falling apart.
- When your doctor gives you a terrible diagnosis.
- When a loved one dies.
- When you lose a home, a job, or a friendship.
- When finances are tight, or non-existent.
It can be SO easy to think to yourself, "If only this would change, I could be happy. If only..."
What does God have to say about things like this?
First, we are to weep with others when they weep. When you find yourself in a season of weeping, you allow yourself to weep and work through those emotions, and you surround yourself with people who, like Job's friends, will just sit in the weeping with you.
Second, you lean into God as your source of comfort, of relief, and of your JOY.
Scripture tells us in Romans 18:18:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."
It's important to remember that nothing happening to us on earth can compare to the beauty and indescribable joy awaiting us in eternity.
When we get there, nothing here will matter anymore. All that will matter is being in the presence of Jesus.
Yes, it's painful to think about your child rejecting God and missing out on this glory. It's painful to walk through a divorce, or scary medical diagnosis, or a betrayal.
But when you feel as though you need your child's salvation, or your marriage to be a godly marriage, or you need to have all of your bills paid, in order to feel joy, then you have elevated those things ABOVE Jesus.
When you seek something other than Jesus for your joy, you've made that thing an idol.
Christ is sufficient for us.
2 Corinthians 5:8 tells us
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work."
We have all sufficiency, in ALL things, at ALL times. And the reason for this is so that we can abound in every good work.
It's difficult to do good works when we're anxious, depressed, waiting on something else to bring us joy, isn't it?
Sweet friend, you don't have to wait to do good. You don't have to wait to find JOY.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.
When we place our focus on Christ, and recognize His sufficiency and ability to BE our complete joy, we will have that joy in abundance - even when we aren't getting the earthly things we want or think we need.
Can you believe this today?
Can you believe Christ alone is sufficiently able to bring you all joy and peace, regardless of your earthly circumstances?
Comment below and let me know how I can pray over you today.
Can you easily stop thinking negative thoughts?
If you're like most people, the answer is no.
It's not easy - it's also not impossible.
Scripture instructs us to "take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5)
But how do I do that, and how can it help my marriage?
Here are some steps to take:
1. Recognize the negative thought.
Our feelings are a result of our thoughts. If you are feeling irritable, angry, hurt, or sad, notice what thoughts you've been thinking.
2. Once you've identified the thought, ask yourself, "Is this true? Is it factual? Is it possible that this is only my opinion or perception?"
Truth is something that would hold up in a court of law. If it's open to interpretation (e.g. obviously he doesn't care, he's lazy, he's self-absorbed), then it isn't truth. Sometimes we need to ask God for wisdom and discernment to recognize the lies, because the enemy can disguise these as truth.
3. Pray over the thought and release it to God.
Thank Him for His willingness to take it from you, and for His mercy and forgiveness. Pray over your husband, or whomever else you had the negative thought. Praying for the person who hurt us can change our thoughts dramatically.
4. Replace the thought with something that is "pure, lovely, and praiseworthy" according to Philippians 4:8.
It's not enough to try and just stop thinking a negative thought. We have to replace it with a positive one. Pray over your husband, or whomever else you had the negative thought. Praying for the person who hurt us can change our thoughts dramatically. Consider their situation and view it from their point of view. Offer the same measure of grace you would offer yourself. Seek to assign positive motives for their behavior, such as they were truly trying to help, they really didn't mean to cause harm and just didn't recognize it, or they were so busy and could probably use some understanding and support.
When you change your thoughts, you change your feelings. When you feel more positive, you will treat your husband more positively. It sounds simple, but this can have such a profound effect on your marriage!
We hear all the time that we should take our thoughts captive, but the practical application and how-to are often missing.
My prayer is that these four steps will be helpful in arming you to battle against negative, false, and harmful thoughts that do not serve you, or your marriage.
Sweet friend, how can I pray over you and your marriage today? Share in the comments or email me directly!
How many times have you thought to yourself, "If I could just be more like so-and-so?"
If I'm being honest, I've thought it a multitude of times.
In my personal life, I've thought it about my friends.
In my marriage, I've thought it about women who I felt were more attractive or fun or smarter than I am.
In business, I've thought it about others who seem to have more or quicker success.
On a recent Sunday morning, I was getting ready to step onto the platform to lead our final worship song. I've struggled with nerves in the past, but instead of reminding myself that those nerves are just pride, I felt God leading me in a different direction.
He reminded me that each one of us is created "fearfully and wonderfully".
Scripture tells us in Genesis 1:27
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."
We are created in His image. When we're afraid to do something exactly the way WE do it, when we want to do something the way someone else does it, or when we're scared to mess it up, we're effectively negating that facet of God's image in us.
He created us as a part of His whole. All of us together are part of Him. When we neglect to be ourselves, we're hiding that part of Who He is. When we focus on not failing, we're not trusting Him to use that failure for our good and His glory. It's through failure that He can use us to display humility and grace.
Do we want to be more like Him? Then we need to focus on being fully ourselves, and no one else.
Who do you want to be like?
When we talk about boosting our energy, we often hear things like "drink more water", "get some exercise", "take your vitamins", and other things we need to physically DO.
But what are some external sources that can sometimes increase - or zap - our energy?
Exposure to Light
Have you heard of Seasonal Depressive Disorder? It's a real thing. That's when some people experience feelings of depression during the months when there is much less sunlight. The weather isn't as pretty, so we often stay indoors.
It's also common for people who work indoors under florescent lights all day to experience some symptoms of fatigue and depression, due to lack of natural light.
If you find this is the case for you as well, try making a habit of spending at least 10-15 intentional minutes outdoors each day. Even if it's cloudy, you can still reap the benefits of UV exposure and increased Vitamin D, which will boost your energy.
Our sense of smell is very powerful and can bring up a lot of memories. If we smell something that reminds us of something painful, that can drain our energy. Synthetic fragrances made in a lab with lots of chemicals can be incredibly draining as well, because our bodies weren't designed to process manmade chemicals. When we're around a lot of "fragrances", our bodies are fighting to work through those which means other functions (e.g. energy producing functions) can sometimes lag.
It's helpful to surround yourself with natural scents that uplift and encourage you. Fresh baked bread or desserts are wonderful if they invoke happy memories. Flowers and plants are great choices. An easy way to access scents like this is with essential oils! Just be sure you know the source of the oils you use, because so many are mis-labled and actually contain fillers or synthetic chemicals to make them more cost effective (I will only use Young Living because of their transparency and commitment to quality).
What You See
Scientists tell us that many different colors can invoke certain emotions, which can greatly affect our energy. Surrounding yourself with bright colors like yellow, orange, and green can be helpful. More muted colors such as grays, browns, and blacks might drain energy.
If you're able to paint your walls with colors that energize you, go for it! If that's not an option, some things you can do are to buy decorations like wall art, flowers, pillows, desk accessories in the colors of your choice.
What You Hear
When you surround yourself with sounds of complaints, or the musings of the melancholy, it's easy to take those feelings on yourself. Negative feelings like these can very quickly suck the life and energy right out of you!
If you find yourself listening to people who tend to complain a lot, make an effort to infuse the conversation with positivity, or consider spending less time with those people and more time with those who are upbeat.
Take some time to think about the music, podcasts, and shows you listen to. Do you feel encouraged, lifted up, and optimistic afterwards? Or do they leave you feeling sad or downtrodden? What enters our minds via words and music can have a dramatic effect on our emotions, which can then affect our energy levels.
After evaluating these different external elements, what are some areas where you think you could benefit from a few tweaks or changes?
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We've all heard the saying, "Ignorance is bliss."
Although we don't necessarily want to be ignorant, there is something to that.
Have you noticed that the people who are considered conspiracy theorists, or those who tend to be nervous about current events, or people with short tempers, all seem to have one thing in common: they watch a LOT of news.
I'm not saying the news in and of itself is bad. I think we just need to be careful about the types of things our minds and hearts are consuming.
Studies have shown links between playing violent video games and the impact that can have on people's minds, and their intents.
There have also been links between listen to certain types of music, and watching certain types of TV shows.
Granted, I know a good number of people who watch violent TV shows and listen to disheartening music who are still positive, upbeat, happy people. But they're the exception, not the rule. They have also made the choice to BE happy, rather than leave it up to their circumstances to make that decision for them.
Scripture tells us in Philippians 4:8, "Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things."
In 2 Corinthians 10:5, we're told, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
Another good verse to remember is, "God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
Those three scriptures are proof enough for me that God has given us every tool we need to CHOOSE what we think about.
What we think about, what we focus on, what we listen to and hear the most, is what shapes everything we do. It determines our beliefs, which determine our actions, which determine our entire lives.
In my Essentially Vibrant group on Facebook, I'm running a 21 Days of Encouragement series with a quote, a journal prompt, and a coordinating essential oil to use. Today's quote is by an unknown author and says,
"Remember - most of your stress comes from the way you respond, not the way life is. Adjust your attitude, and all that extra stress is gone."
What we think about determines our attitude about EVERYTHING.
What we think about comes from what we allow into our hearts and minds - from the news, to TV shows and movies, to music, to even certain people and the types of conversations we have with them.
Something to consider today: how often do you find yourself listening to something that uplifts and encourages you, rather than something negative?
Let me know what the last encouraging thing is that you watched or listened to! If you need some ideas of encouraging TV shows or things to listen to, let me know. I'm here to help!
If you're feeling exhausted and would love 5 easy ways to boost your energy, grab my free guide here!
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