Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Moving Out of the Corner of Pain

There are times in life where we all have wanted to throw in the towel and call it quits.  Life can get overwhelmingly difficult and the word hope is no longer in our vocabulary.  We feel defeated and question our choices, our circumstances, and even our faith.  Times like this can leave us feeling so alone, unheard, and unseen.  

This past year was one of those years for me.  Someone I love experienced some gut-wrenching pain and I crawled into the trenches to support, encourage, and love on this person.  While the experiences did not happen to me personally, watching someone you absolutely love suffer and question his/her existence is devastatingly painful.  At times, life became almost too hard to handle.  Because the person and I were so close, the pain that was felt by my loved one was often turned into hateful anger directed at me.  My level headed mind knew it was just deep-seated pain and was never a personal attack.  I won't lie, there were many times that the anger became too much and it cut my heart into a zillion pieces.  On top of that, I was painfully heartbroken for this person and felt so much anger, betrayal, hurt, etc.  

As I woke each morning, and often throughout the day, I prayed for my loved one.  At first, my prayers were to surround my love, comfort my love, and heal my love.  I prayed that God would set a table before my love in the presence of the enemies.  I prayed that those who caused the pain would suffer greatly and feel exactly what they had inflicted.

As time went on, I realized my prayers were filled with bitterness.  They were also very limiting.  God can do so much more than we can imagine and I needed to praise Him for this, as well as pray loving prayers over the enemies.  At first, I gritted my teeth as I prayed blessings over those who caused such heart devastation.  It was unfathomable to me to pray that those who had caused so much harm would receive blessings.

The more I prayed for them, however, the more God opened my heart to feel empathy and forgiveness.  I began to pray for my loved one to grow closer to God in the pain.  I prayed that my love would recognize God's sovereignty and constant presence, even in the trenches.  I also prayed that the inflicters would know God's love.  I began to realize that those who are hurting hurt others.  I prayed that rather than feeling pain like I originally prayed for, that they would feel freedom and peace.

As God always does, He heard my prayers and answered them.  My loved one has more strength, courage, and drive for life than I ever imagined possible.  My love experienced true feelings of forgiveness and mercy.  There are no grudges, no retaliation hopes, and no ill will.  My love is truly free, joyous, and happy.  So many opportunities have presented themselves and so much growth has taken place.  

While I would never wish for my love to suffer so greatly, so much was gained from this experience.  Life lessons about God, love, forgiveness, strength, and a will to live happily were gained.  I no longer feel anger about the situation, but rather grateful for the growth that has taken place.  

Life lessons often come from pain.  We can stay stuffed in a corner with ridiculously bitter hearts or we can open our hearts to God's leading, growing, and healing.  Am I ever grateful that my love chose the latter!

You may be wondering what became of the offenders.  God is definitely at work in their lives.  A couple of the people actually accepted responsibility and apologized.  That is huge!  I continue to pray for them and have great hope that they will feel God's love and mercy with such force that they will know the source.  My love offers them forgiveness and mercy, which I truly believe they feel.  

If you find yourself in the trenches and feel alone, abandoned, hopeless, and helpless, know that you are not alone.  God is with you and waiting for you to ask for help and guidance.  Pour your heart out to Him and trust that He hears you.  He created you to love you, not to hurt you.  Often, lessons hurt like major heck, but the growth that comes is worth it.  We will never grow hiding away with bitter hearts.  Growth and healing are results of lots of knee time in prayer.  Be honest in your pain and in your prayers.  Look for the teeny blessings that God provides for you each day.  Those teeny blessings add up.

One moment at a time in trust and you will feel and see God direct your heart to Him.

Loving you so much-
Marci



Friday, June 21, 2019

Mindset Changes Everything



Mindset is defined as "the established set of attitudes held by someone." (Dictionary.com)

Our mindsets are so important to our overall health.  The stress that we allow into our bodies through our mindsets can wreak havoc on our health.  We can eat nothing but whole foods, exercise regularly, but if our mindsets are programmed to think negatively and destructively, we are not contributing to a healthy lifestyle.  Rather, we are harming our bodies.  This harm has immediate and lasting effects on our overall health.

Controlling our mindsets should be one of our top priorities.  We can't just say to our minds, "Alright, already-stop this way of thinking!"  That's impossible.  It is a process that takes time and dedication.  If it were easy and quick, we would all have mindsets that support healthy living.  Unfortunately, many of us have mindsets that are extremely destructive and we are so caught up in it that we don't even realize the negative effects it has on our lives and bodies.

The benefits of a healthy mindset are:
  • increased longevity
  • reduces depression
  • lowers levels of anxiety
  • increases immunity
  • reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • promotes healthy relationships


Thankfully, there are many ways in which we can train our mindsets.  They take practice, but they are so worth it.  In time, you will notice more peace in your life.  You will recognize when a destructive thought enters your brain and be able to push it away quickly.  You will feel freer and happier.

Techniques for growing a healthy mindset:

1.  Guard your minds - be mindful of what and who you are listening to and watching.  Be aware of how these things make you feel and what they cause you to focus on.

2.  Be proactive rather than reactive - be mindful of what and who pushes your buttons.  Establish game plans on how best to deal with these situations BEFORE they happen.

3.  Surround yourself with people and places that honor and promote a healthy mindset -this one needs no explanation! :)

4.  Banish negative self-talk -  we all have times where we allow our minds to go on a negative road trip.  We have gone clear across the country before we even realize it.  This leaves us feeling grumpy and depleted.  Be extremely mindful of EVERYTHING you are thinking upon.  If you notice ugliness, change your talk immediately.  There is no room in the inn for negative self-talk.  Not one good thing comes from it.

5.  Live a balanced life - be sure to practice self-care.  When we give to others and deny ourselves, we become overwhelmed and our mindsets are not supportive.

6.  Help others - it is amazing what happens to our mindsets when we help others!

7.  Be grateful - I often suggest to people that they keep a gratitude journal with them at all times.  Set a goal for how many things you want to record.  It often helps to break it up into times of the day.  When we only do it in the morning or evening, we forget to focus on gratefulness throughout the day.

These techniques really will change your mindset for the better.  With time and practice, you will feel better and happier.  You will notice your stress levels diminishing and your energy levels rising.

You CAN do this!  I believe in you and your health!


Proverbs 23:7...As someone thinks within himself, so he is.

Marci




Friday, June 14, 2019

Learning to Take Care of Yourself




Mark 6:31

He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while."
For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.

When my oldest was a baby, we lived in New York.  My husband and I are both from Texas and our little one was the first grandchild on both sides.  Needless to say, we flew home a LOT!!

Every time we flew, the flight attendants made sure I knew that if there was an emergency I needed to put my oxygen mask on before putting a mask on my little one.  Thankfully, I never had to experience this for real!

Because of all the flying we did, I adopted the phrase, "Put your oxygen mask on first".  When I am speaking to new mamas, worn out friends, or even myself I use this phrase.

We cannot be at our best if we feel depleted and lack the fuel we need to operate.  On a plane, lack of oxygen will cause us to pass out and eventually die.  In life, lack of care for ourselves will cause burnout, depression, anxiety, and lots and lots of stress.

Often times, we feel guilty and/or selfish if we take time for ourselves.  We carry around the mentality that we have to be super people who give, give, give and never relax.  In our world, if someone is not a super achiever, they are labeled a slacker.  Thankfully, that is not God's label.  He created rest and desires for us to use it.  He knows that without some rest and rejuvenation, we will not be on our game.

God did not create us to save the world.  He did not create us to fix everything, solve everything, and be everything to people.  We will never be difference makers if we fail to take care of the person God created us to be.

Putting on your oxygen mask will ensure that your heart and head are well rested.  You will feel revived and refreshed.  There is no shame in needing your oxygen mask!

Individual oxygen masks look different for each person. 

For me, I like to wake before my family and have a quiet time with Jesus.  Also, it helps me to read at least one chapter in a book each day.  This reading can occur anytime throughout the day.  It is soothing for my soul to steal away and get lost in a book.

My husband's oxygen mask consists of quiet time alone doing yard work.  It is so soothing to him and allows his mind to be refreshed.

What does your oxygen mask look like? 

What causes you to feel refueled and refreshed? 

What is holding you back?  Keeping you from getting your God prescribed rest?

No matter what your oxygen mask looks like, don't be ashamed to admit you need it.  Failing to consistently put it on will cause you to feel overwhelmed and lack the essential body and mind energy to successfully conquer each day.

Taking care of yourself is not selfish, it is energy for your soul.

If you find it difficult at first, try scheduling it out.  Make yourself a priority, sweet friend.  There is joy in rest and rejuvenation.

And when you find it difficult to settle down and rest because of guilt, a mile long to-do list, etc., remember the words of your Savior - the one who calls you to rest.


Mark 6:31

He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest for a while."

For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.

Loving you all,
Marci

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Creating an Active Prayer Life





Prayer is a game changer.  When done consistently, our hearts learn to lean towards Jesus in all areas of our lives.  The abundant life that He speaks of in John 10:10 becomes a reality.  This is not to say there will never be trials, heartache, tears, and anger.  These things are a given when living in a broken world.  However, cultivating an active prayer life will change the way we deal with these things and create an overall sense of peace and calmness amidst the storms.  Fears will still come, but they won't pull us under the roaring sea.  When prayer is part of your day and part of your life, your life truly will change.

Sounds great, right?  But how does one pray continually?  We have so much going on in life and so many things to think about, plan, and execute.  I remember on numerous mornings telling myself I was going to pray throughout the day only to crawl in my bed that night and realize I didn't utter one prayer.  I would get discouraged and frustrated with myself.

I began to really think about how I could pray continually throughout the day.  I realized (God probably actually smacked me with this reality!) that prayer is not a wordy, impersonal act.  Prayer is literally just talking to Jesus.  Prayer is our direct line to Him.

Think about it...we talk to ourselves all day long.  Instead of just speaking to ourselves, we can train our minds to speak to the Holy Spirit more than we speak to ourselves.  And that, my friend, is prayer!  Nothing fancy.  Nothing showy.  Just pure, honest talk.

So how do we train our minds?  With lots of practice.  Anytime we begin something new, it takes effort.  We create habits over a series of days and weeks, not minutes.  The practice of continual prayer is not meant to frustrate us, it is meant to encourage us and enrich our lives.

There are many ways to train our minds.  We are all different and, therefore, some things work for some while other things work for others.  I'm going to share how I was able to train my mind.  You can use it all, you can use bits and pieces, or you can throw it all out the window.  Do what works for you.



How I trained my mind to have an active and consistent prayer life:

1.  I begin my day with Jesus.  Before doing anything else, I grab my prayer journal and write out what I am thankful for, personal prayers, and prayers for others.  Prior to beginning, I ask Jesus to show me sins I need to confess and people I need to forgive.  This clears my heart and prepares me to focus on Jesus.  By waking and going to Jesus first thing, I center my thoughts around Him rather than around me.  It has made a HUGE difference in my life.

2.  I committed to reading Scripture daily.  This is often done mid morning or early afternoon.  I have found that this has helped me so much.  If my mind wanders away from the will of Jesus, reading Scripture always brings me back to Him.  This can be five minutes or thirty minutes.  It is dependent upon my day.  However, I generally always stick to it because it has made such a difference in my mindset and heart.

3.  I like to focus on a verse each day.  When I wake in the morning and have something on my heart, I will look for a verse during my prayer time that I know will help center me.  For example, if I am in what if mode, I will think upon Philippians 4:6-8.  If I do not have the verse committed to memory, I will write it down on a small index card and keep it with me.

These practices have been so helpful in training my mind to think upon Jesus throughout the day.  My prayers are short - often one to two sentences - but they are consistent.  For example, if I am outside with my puppy and hear a bird, I will tell Jesus what a beautiful sound He created and thank Him for allowing me to hear it.

Praying consistently has made such an impact on my life.  I feel so very connected to Jesus.  I recognize His presence so often and feel Him speaking to me.  There truly is a peace that surpasses all of my understanding and I know, without a doubt, that it comes from having an active prayer life.

My mom recently said something that was a golden nugget.  I grabbed it and tucked it away for safe keeping hoping to never forget it.  She said, "As I'm praying throughout the day, I don't say Amen.  I keep my heart open so that my prayers are flowing all day."  I love that!  Let your prayers flow all day and feel the transforming effects of a consistent and active prayer life.

Rooting for you and your prayer life,
Marci