This time of year gets hard for me. For the past five years, when my birthday rolls around in mid-November, I can begin to feel the shift. I described it a few weeks ago to my husband as this- “There’s just this deep ache within my soul that feels heavy. I’m not depressed. I’m not anxious. Yet, I feel as if there is something sitting on my chest and it’s not going away.”
I’ve learned that this deep ache is GRIEF. With the holiday season there comes a longing. . .a longing for the way things used to be. A longing for what I had hoped always would be. Continue reading Joy in the Heaviness
Life is hard. Overwhelmingly difficult at times. I want to give up. I want to cry. I want to run away and find a safe place.
A place of calm. A place of rest. A place of security. A place of safety.
I have found myself constantly searching for my place of safety during these last several months. (Really it’s been the past several years!) It’s been a real struggle to find joy on many days. I’m exhausted. My heart is weary. My strength seems to be sapped so easily. I’ve been discouraged. I’ve questioned God’s ways. I can’t seem to understand why my life has been full of heartache and stress…heart attacks, ministry/job changes, death of loved ones, burns, anxiety, friendship changes, and parenting struggles to name a few. During the past few weeks, I’ve been asking the Lord to teach me new truths and reveal to my heart what He wants me to understand through this tough season of life. Continue reading My Place of Safety
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. . .” Psalm 23:6a
It was 12:30 am, December 12, 2016, when God’s Spirit reminded me of these verses. As I was trying to calm my body and mind, I began to quietly quote Psalm 23. My earlier evening had been spent at the hospital beside Jason’s bed . . . watching him breathe and constantly reading bedside monitors. Never would I have imagined that my 38 year old husband would suffer a life-threatening cardiac arrest and miraculously survive! (You can read his story here.) Continue reading Surely Goodness and Mercy
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!