As I mentioned in a previous post , I’ve spent the last few months fighting for the JOY of the Lord! I have come to know that fighting for joy is not exclusive to fighting only spiritually. Fighting for His joy has meant that I must fight physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. As I give attention to my whole being, I am able to more effectively war in the fight for joy.
Let me share a few ways that I am fighting for joy in physical ways-
- Exercising- Our bodies are designed to move! Research shows that endorphins (those little things that make you happy) are released when we exercise. Many days I do not want to exercise or necessarily have the time to exercise. . .but I know the value of exercise and what it does for my body and mind. In the past few months, I have been walking the neighborhood in the early mornings with a friend. Having an accountability partner and friend makes a huge difference for me! Recently, our family has joined the local YMCA and plans to utilize the many options for classes, equipment, and accountability found there. I’m loving the Yoga class! Getting started with exercise is by far the hardest part! Yet I can’t tell you how I’ve benefitted in multiple ways from my choice to exercise. Consistent exercise really does help in the fight for joy. . .exercise helps me avoid depression, anxiety, and other health issues.
- Eating healthy- Making wise food choices directly affects my overall well-being. Limiting sweets, processed foods, and gluten continues to be a challenge for me in this fight for joy. However, I have learned that my body functions in a more healthy way when I say “NO” to these triggers. God designed our bodies to need healthy nourishment to function at our best capacity. It’s my goal to serve my family and others with energy, joy, and kindness. Eating healthy helps me accomplish my goals.
- Sleeping– I’m a girl who needs a solid 8 hours of sleep to function at my best level! My husband, on the other hand, is a grump when he gets too much sleep. His body doesn’t seem to require the same amount of sleep that I do! Learning what your body needs is very important. Getting my 8 hours of sleep is a priority to me. I work hard to get into bed on time so I can get up on time. Often, this means putting aside some “work” that needs to be done, setting aside housechores that can wait, and putting down my phone or computer in the evening. It takes discipline to get to bed on time! Again, God designed our bodies to need rest. I will say that getting quality sleep during the past few years has been quite a challenge for me. Throughout the grief journey and many changes that I’ve walked through, my body has gone “on strike” many nights. Insomnia, stress, and anxiety have robbed many nights of good sleep! Yet, I have practiced many effective habits for getting a better night’s rest. Deep breathing, essential oils, massage, a hot bath, Bach’s Rescue Remedy, and Unisom are some of my best friends! Find what works for you and don’t hesitate to do what’s necessary to ensure a night of quality sleep! A well-rested body fights for joy much more effectively!
- Crying- When I release the pent-up emotions from struggling in the fight for joy, a sweet peace always floods my body and soul. Tears are very healing. Tears also bring me humbly to my knees in dependence on Christ. So I thank God for tears. Don’t be afraid to cry. Jesus understands the language of tears. Tears are a sweet gift from the Father.
- Playing with my children– Whether it’s chasing kids around the house, kicking a soccer ball outdoors, taking a neighborhood hike, pushing a swing, or simply tickling a child on the living room floor. . .all of these things release stress from my physical body. I’ll admit that it is hard for me to take a break from the daily motherhood chores and simply play with my children. But I always am glad that I made the choice to PLAY! My kids love for me to play with them, and they benefit from having play-time with mom. I also benefit in so many ways! I challenge you to engage in some type of physical activity with your children today. The stress will lighten and your heart will feel glad!
- Taking vitamins and supplements- I’m thankful for the extra help I’ve found in natural supplements and vitamins. Magnesium, B vitamins, and a good multi-vitamin have greatly helped my body during stressful times.
- Working around my house- During times of stress or grief, it’s very easy to be lazy. To sit on the couch, to binge watch on Netflix, to sleep the day away. I remember my mom often quoting from Elisabeth Elliot, “Do the next thing.” My next thing is to take care of the normal household chores. With a family of 7, there is always work to be done. I’ve found that embracing the responsibilities of work that God has given me and getting the work done brings a certain joy into my own heart. When my work is done, it’s easier to rest and enjoy my family. What is the work God has given you?
- Singing- The Scriptures talk often about praising the Lord with our song. Most every day in my home there is music playing throughout the house. And very often, you will find me singing along with the worship tunes! Singing to the Lord lifts my spirits and puts my focus on Him. . .not on my lack of sleep, lack of energy, or lack of motivation to do the chores. Most recently, I’m enjoying the music of Chris Tomlin, Ellie Holcomb, Laura Story, Audrey Assad, JJ Heller, and Christy Nockels.
- Getting outdoors- Our bodies need sunshine and fresh air! Many days when I am struggling and feeling a little blue, I take a walk around my house outdoors. Smelling the flowers, seeing blue skies, hearing a bird sing, watching a butterfly, and feeling the fresh breeze on my skin is invigorating! My spirits are always lifted from spending a few minutes outside! Even better is when I do a physical activity outside–watering my flowers, raking a few leaves, sweeping my front porch, or swinging a child! Taking a nature walk is one of my favorite things to do as well. God always reminds me that He is our Creator and loves beautiful things. I’m reminded to simply trust the Maker of all things.
This list is by no means exhaustive. I’m sure you could add your own things that help you fight for joy physically! Paying attention to your physical body is just so important in the fight for joy. We are whole beings. . .therefore, we must give attention to the different facets of our whole selves. I do not believe we can neglect our physical bodies and fight effectively for His joy!
Please comment below with the ways that you have found effective in fighting for joy physically! I’m always on the hunt for new and effective strategies! Remember, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we are fighting together for His glory!
A few months ago, I was sitting in my counselor’s office and asking for wisdom in some personal matters. She’s a dear friend and always speaks truth into my life. She advised me to obey the whisper of the Spirit and pull away from the blogging world for a while. I’ve needed to involve my heart, mind, and body in other soul-filling endeavors.
Honestly, I’ve wanted to quit writing. I’ve been wrestling with “do I write?” or “do I just need to stop?” I’ve been talking with the Lord about it for many weeks. . .and He hasn’t given me the go-ahead to stop.Yet, I did feel Him leading me to take a break for a bit.
In recent days, I have sensed the urge to write again and share what God has been doing in my own heart through these last few months. God is graciously revealing more love to me, filling my heart with Himself, and using my story for His good and His glory. He has also been working out sin from within, reframing thought processes, and rooting out anger, pride, selfishness, and the list can continue. Continue reading Fighting for Joy
One of my favorite music albums is Steven Curtis Chapman’s The Glorious Unfolding. Steven writes these songs from his own raw, vulnerable, and painful suffering. He has walked the dark roads of intense suffering and questioning. He has personally experienced deep grief. And he has found God to be faithful and the hope of Heaven to be very comforting.
As I was listening and singing along to his song Take Another Step this morning in my mommy-van, I was reminded of several steps that I’ve taken along my personal grief journey. God has been so faithful to me as well and Heaven grows sweeter each day.
But taking another step in the middle of deep pain and suffering is not easy. AT ALL. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt that I couldn’t keep pushing through the fog. I’ve wanted to quit and give up on so many days. I’ve cried more tears than I ever dreamed possible. I’ve felt numb but yet so sensitive to people, places, and memories. Many days it has seemed near to impossible to crawl out of bed, take a step into my kitchen, or get dressed to care for my family. Yet, I am making it. . .one step at a time. I am moving from my emptiness to His fullness. . .little by little. And I am loving God more with each day. . .as I daily take steps into His light. Continue reading Take Another Step
I’m sure you’ve been there before. If not, you will be at some point. I’m talking about that day in your life when the bad news comes, life turns upside-down, your loved one dies, or you simply are blind-sided by someone’s decision.
How do you handle those rough winds in your sea? What do you do to avoid drowning? How do you keep breathing when it seems you can barely stay afloat? Where do you turn for help?
A few nights ago these simple thoughts came to mind as I was praying for wisdom in helping a friend who is struggling with her own “hard.” I hope these will be a blessing and encouragement to you today. Continue reading When Life Is Hard
In November of 2015, I had the privilege to speak at a ladies conference in NC. I have shared these sessions with a few friends in my church who encouraged me to post them on the blog. I pray that God will use these words to strengthen and encourage your own heart. God has certainly been faithful in my own life and continues to move my life from “empty to full.”
In these sessions, I quote and reference from many of the following authors. I highly recommend these books that God has used to bring healing and help to my own life through my journey of grief. Continue reading Conference Sessions Available on Vimeo- “From Empty to Full”
The blog has been a little quiet in recent months because it’s been a new growth season for me personally.
After speaking for a ladies conference in November 2015, I hit another wall of intense grief. I think as I had been studying and preparing for the conference, I was also reliving so much of my own pain and personal struggles from the death of my mom. I wasn’t prepared for the intense after-effect of such an emotional event of sharing God’s work in my life through my pain and loss. I began to “crash” after the conference as I entered the holiday season and the anniversary of Mom’s death in February. Continue reading Tomorrow
I’m sitting outside on my deck today enjoying the beautiful sunshine. The sky is Carolina blue with huge white puffy clouds. I can see the new rose bushes I planted this week, the rosemary plant the kids begged me to purchase (to be like “Meme”), the huge yellow African marigolds in my new planter, and the beautiful wave petunias that grace my deck. I’m smiling this afternoon as I write you this letter because you taught me to LOVE flowers. Every flower that I plant reminds me of you. And I miss you, Mom. Every. single. day.
Continue reading When I Think of You, Mom
We were here. Again. For the second time.
Lauryn, with a terrified look on her face, climbed apprehensively into the dentist’s chair. She knew what was ahead. She had been through this before!
Having four teeth pulled was no joy-ride. It was rather horrific to a ten year old girl who struggles very much with fear of pain.
As I gently held both of her hands in mine, I winced in my own heart as she strangled my fingers with her death grip. I knew she was terrified! As her tears began to flow freely into the sides of her hair, my own tears welled up within my eyes. As she tried to resist the pain and endure the struggle to remain in that chair, I thought of how often I try to resist pain. Pain that I know in my mind will be worth it. But pain that my heart can barely seem to endure. Continue reading The Dentist & My Father’s Love
Exactly three years ago this weekend, the darkness was falling fast into my life. I was headed into a darkness that I had never experienced before or even realized existed. I showed up at the Georgia home of my parents, per my dad’s request to come help out with mom. Mom’s depression was beginning to reach a deep low. Dad was at a loss and needed reinforcement, rest, and encouragement. Mom needed love, care, and gentleness. We all needed God’s grace. Continue reading When Darkness Falls
(If you missed part one and two. . .)
I must tell you that I have had to fight to get from living in empty to living in His fullness. I’m still fighting daily to live in His fullness and truth.
After mom’s death, I had no idea of how intense the battles (and wars) would be that I would fight within my heart for His truth. Grief is such an ugly journey. . . full of many ups and downs.
John 10:10 has become a very special verse to me in the last few years. As I was deeply struggling in my grief, anger, and spiritual questioning, God led me to this verse. Jesus says, “I am come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” One author paraphrased the verse to read, “The thief comes only to steal, to kill, and to destroy, but I have come to bring them life in its fullness.”
I seriously doubted the truth of this verse for months. My life felt anything but “abundant”. It seemed to me that the devil had won and I would never experience a full life again. Satan is the Ultimate Deceiver! He is downright ugly and plays cruelly! He wants to take me captive. .. and he wants to take you captive. And very often, he slyly pulls our hearts and minds away from the truth by using our emotions, thoughts, feelings, and experiences to pull the engines of our mind and heart rather than allowing Truth to direct our minds and hearts. Our experiences and emotions cannot be our guide. Every event in your life must be understood and interpreted by the Scriptures. For the God revealed in Scripture doesn’t change. (Malachi 3:6) Continue reading Filled With All the Fullness of God- Part Three