The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, but until then: Seven steps to peace.

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We are getting into our sunny season around here and I couldn’t be any more thrilled. But, I have to admit with COVID-19 orders to stay in, I could get a little discouraged that the sun is finally here again, and I have to wait for the trips to the zoo, parks, waterfalls, mountains and ocean.

When I was little, my aunt would sing to me the lyrics of Annie’s famous song,
The Sun will come out tomorrow. 
Living in months of rainy Oregon weather every year, I have to admit I still absolutely love that song! I will sing it often to cheer myself on a cloudy day. Especially when despite the situations outside, my heart may be feeling a little damp and not so sunny.

Sometimes I have to just shrug off the situations in my life and say, oh well, the sun will come out tomorrow. Otherwise, things can go from gloomy to worse, quickly. And most assuredly the situation always changes, and often looking back I can be thankful how I have grown and that this too was survived. Life is ever-changing and the sun truly does come out tomorrow. Oh maybe not today’s tomorrow, but some days tomorrow.
Until we see the sun come out in our lives, both figuratively and literally, there are seven steps to peace that I try to follow these days. I find even in the darkest gloomiest seasons, I can often find a bit of sun after all.

Seven Steps to Peace

1. Ask yourself if the situation is truly dark as it seems. Is there any opportunity for the good within the circumstances to be seen? Look for even a glimmer of hope in the most hopeless of days. When you find it, hold on tight.

2. There is true wisdom in the words, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Evaluate what is worth the energy to keep you from peace. If it truly is not worth it, don’t give in to it. It is okay to let the small things go.

3. Sing Baby Sing! Music truly is an opportunity to bring about peace. Find some music that stirs up your peace, or joy, or a little sunshine on a cloudy day and sing along.
Or if you are more into grooving, dance along to that favorite tune. My favorite worship leader would always remind me, with praise and thanksgiving, give a shout of triumph unto the Lord. Oh, how it is hard to stay in turmoil with praise on your lips!

4. Meditate. The scriptures tell us to meditate on the word of God. Meditate (think upon) His word and promises. Think upon whatever is good, right and brings honor to His name.

5. Walk away. If you are dealing with toxic people that are robbing you of peace, and you are able to, walk away. Nothing is worth the damage that constant turmoil brings your life from a situation that is unhealthy. If it is a situation that you just can not walk away from, seek some wise counsel on how to best maintain your peace and handle a toxic situation/relationship.

6.  Be mindful to not pick up someone else’s anger, frustration, anxiety or self-righteousness over a situation. I have been peaceful and joyful and walked into a room of grumbling and complaining and picked up the very same attitude. Likewise I am positive that I have changed atmospheres with my own negative mindsets. Now I am learning to take the time to breathe, slow down and think of a way to encourage in a frustrating situation, rather than becoming a part of the problem.

7. Write it down. We are human and we are going to go through battles that sometimes are too big to think away, sing away or hope away. But I have found writing all the good, the bad and the ugly down in my situation, often turns into my prayer, and not only helps me put things in perspective but releases the pressures building up in me when it is all just too much. Often when I get to the end of my writing, I will begin to see the situation with a new lens and gain ideas to best equip me in the battle ahead. I also have found that keeping it all down, leads to testimonies when the sun shines and it has all worked itself out in the end.

You see, the rains come. The storms of life hit hard. But eventually, the darkness rolls away and hope shines again. The sun will come out. My hope is we can avoid being a soggy mess when it arrives. But instead being the strong tree, with the roots that run deep. Still standing tall at the end of it all. Ready to glisten in the shimmer of goodness as the light once again shines.

A matter of perspective?

Image  Photo by: Awakened Arts

 

This is an old post from years ago that I had found living in my draft folder.
I am reflecting with fresh eyes, as the winter season that is about to pass in just a few short days. I know even in the spring many rainy days will come.

There were difficult days of course over the years, in fact, I just had a bout of nasty emotions again. but as time has gone on, the Lord has returned me to His truths much quicker than in the past. I am listening to His voice closer now. I am looking now.
As I get ready for spring with excitement, I know that each day will be a joy or a curse, depending on my perspective and where my thoughts and eyes are resting.

Even though this was written long ago, I am finding it still relevant. Be blessed in the sharing.

A matter of Perspective:

I live in a very damp region, often we can have 30 (+) days of constant rain and often the gray dreary weather leaves many people despondent.
One year when I was driving home from work and we had our first rain of the season. I noticed the coolness on my windshield as the tiny droplets began to form into full-grown raindrops. There was a moment of pause and then my tears fell. I knew it had begun. This rain meant a shift in the season that I was enjoying so much.  Gone were the outdoorsy, summery warm evenings and the abundant vitamin D, hello cold and flu season and hidden away like a bear hibernating for winter. My eyes were focused on loss rather than a possibility that comes with change.

The funny thing is, at that moment, I was focusing on what I was dreading and all that was unpleasant. Yet, each and every season for me has greatness as well. It is all a matter of perspective.

I find that those rains bring about the most gorgeous green foliage! Rich soils produce mushrooms, thirsty ferns, and moss! I had only the year before gone on a glorious photo walk and captured so many textures and colors. The colors for a photographer in autumn with the fall leaves are amazing. I had forgotten it in the moment of tears. But now I realize it is just a matter of perspective.

The colder wet season also brings about more movie nights, family game nights and hot cocoa! The evenings seem to spread forever as it gets darker earlier and earlier. I often hear the words, ” It is only six o clock?! We have the whole night ahead of us!”

Each season in our life can bring about life and death, dread and joy, peace and strife. We can look at our season from many perspectives but I want to encourage you this day to look at your season with a new vision.

You can have a purpose in every single life situation. This is a vision of hope and life. Don’t focus on all the dreariness in your season, but the life that the season will produce. What could this season bring to you that will strengthen you and equip you for the next? How can you switch your perspective to one of hope, or at the very least one that sees an end ahead at the end of the tunnel where a new day will awaken.

Even during the tiring, physical struggle of work that may bring your energy down, you can look and see what is being done. When you feel tired and distressed, remember that every season of good cultivating comes to fruition. Each season serves its purpose and as we serve a mighty God with great plans for our life we can rest assured that the outcome will be LIFE producing 🙂

I am not naturally the cup is a half-full type of gal, or at least I don’t see myself as one. I truly have to take pause and work to see all the good that can arise in a situation.
To look at the full picture and pull out the good takes practice and an effort. It is not always easy to see what is lovely at times. But in my pursuit of joy, I realized how very important it is, to see the whole picture and set my eyes ahead to what I know HE has done!

It truly can be a matter of perspective!

Psalm 121:1 – 2

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?

My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

Blessings this day~

Just Get Over It

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The darkness is overwhelming and their head is spinning and I have heard others that have never dealt with depression or anxiety, look at them and use the words, “Just get over it.” And I  see the faces of the ones in the struggle, hearing these words while the shoulders tighten and their head sags in defeat. My own thoughts start to swirl, and I think to myself if they were able to just get over it, don’t you think they would? Who wants to live this way?

There is an ever-revolving cycle when dealing with depression and anxiety that often leads to someone overwhelmed and in a place of isolation. The motivation and even energy to just get over it are lacking, as they might even see what they ought to do but just can’t bring themselves to make the changes that will bring them out.

There are some things that helped me in my own process of victory.
Yes, I may still get smacked in the face with anxiety or depression, but with these tools, I am not overtaken by them anymore.

While people may mean well when they say “Just get over it” and offer no solution on how to do so, I have listed some tools that helped me to actually climb above the mountain and see the joy on the other side. You see, you can’t get over something, without the climb.

10 Steps I use to get over it

  1. Talk with a professional:
    First and so important, when facing clinical depression and anxiety is to talk with a professional. I can’t emphasize enough, how encouraging it was to have the support of my doctor. We discussed medications and my reasoning for no longer wanting to be on them. She gave me solid advice on natural ways to combat anxiety and depression. Most importantly she reminded me that I was not alone.
  2.  Deep slow breaths when the thoughts come: 
    The anxiety may rise up, but does not need to become a stronghold. I can take deep slow breaths and release the concern. This is also where I meditate on the word the Lord has given me or spend time in thoughts of His goodness.
  3. Get to the root:
    Recognize where you may be feeding the anxiety and depression. I find it so interesting that even in the word, it says anxiety leads to depression! And over and over it is written to not worry, not be afraid, not to be anxious. But when you are in the ‘feeling’ of it all, how do you not walk in it?
    I was feeding my anxiety by obsessing on things I could do nothing about. I even recently had full-on attacks because so much came at me at once in the last months.
    This was a root, so I had to be aware of how I was opening the doors and being mindful to close them.
  4.  Journal:
    I get all my thoughts down concerning the situation. Then leave it there.
    There is no health in replaying the hard stuff over and over in my mind. Also often when I journal, I see the picture more clearly of where the root is taking ground, than if I try to figure it out on my own.
  5. Remember your victories:
    This has helped me so much! Recognizing joys rather than all the junk.  There is a plan for good things for your life. It may take some very hard searching for a victory but there absolutely is one there. Start with the simple truths if you must, and grow from there.
    Even though this moment is awful,  it is a moment. I know you have had some good ones as well!
    It may take longer than we would like, but the season will change. Remembering the past victories helps us in the waiting.
    This goes in line with focus. Our health is tied so much to what our thought life is. Find more on my thoughts to a victory mindset here: Victory
  6. Change the environment:
    Sometimes when the anxiety comes, just removing myself from where I am at helps. It may not always be possible, like if you are in the middle of a work shift, but when you have the ability to walk away and regroup, do so. When you leave the stressful environment, work hard at not living there in your mind when you are away.
    As crazy as it sounds, sometimes bedtime can be the most anxiety-filled moment of my day. I finally stopped doing and slowed down and my brain tries to roadrunner all over my peace. Honestly, sometimes I will have to remove myself from trying to sleep until I walk through the steps of getting over it.
  7. Diet/ Exercise:
     I am not going to get over anxiety and depression with a body in stress mode for lack of care.
    I know for a fact that gluten along with a myriad of symptoms, amps my anxiety through the roof. I do not have a marked allergy, it is just something that happens. Is there something in your diet that is triggering your anxiety? It may be time to start an elimination process to figure out what it is.
    My friend can’t drink coffee, another has issues with tomatoes, sugar, dairy, and the list goes on. I have touched on this topic on my post: Don’t eat the doughnut.

    Concerning exercise, I have health issues that make it difficult for me without feeling sick. Even walking makes me nauseated (unless I walk with my eyes closed). BUT exercise releases feel-good chemicals that relieve stress! Not to mention your stamina increases and your overall health improves.
    I was down a few days ill, and then my pup had surgery and just a few days without our walk, I felt the difference in my calm meter.

  8. Do for others:
    Community is so important. Isolation leads to depression. When we are serving and doing for others, the focus is off of all of our worries, our own mess and we reap what we are sowing into others.  Keep your eyes open to where there is a need near you. Also, important to remember in regards to this, don’t have expectations from those that you do for, just do for the joy of doing. Otherwise….more anxiety may follow as it may lead to resentment.
  9.  Don’t delay:
    It takes work to overcome anxiety and depression. The longer I walked in it, the harder it was to climb out. I would sink into my isolation and tell myself that I would do better tomorrow, then the next day would come and I would be in the same mess. It is hard to rise up,  but if you wait it becomes even harder. Nobody can do it for us. We must take action ourselves. We can make every excuse to not do, but we will not have victory if we stay still.
  10. Word, Prayer, and Praise and Worship:
    This is my MUST and listed last not because it is the lowest on my list but the one I want to remain on the mind.
    The presence of God is tangible and available. I have complete peace in those moments I am with him. The Lord is my refuge and hiding place.
    (Psalm 91)
    No matter all the steps I do, I personally did not obtain victory until I put this first in my life.
    People will let you down if you run to them for your refuge. They have their own flaws, their own ‘stuff’ and they can’t meet your every need. They make mistakes and they may be your very source of frustration.
    BUT GOD.
    Word helps me remember what He says about me, shows me other victories if I am in the struggle with my own. His word connects me to the heart of my creator that wanted a relationship with me.
    Prayer is my opportunity to cry out and rejoice and thank. I get to pray for others and their situations rather than let the anxiety overwhelm. It is my communication with him and another opportunity for him to speak into my heart.
    Worship is my intimate time with the Lord. It is my, you are mine and I am in your love and belong to you God moment. and Praise is my rejoicing in all He has done, and will do and all that He IS.
    There was a season where I had shut God out due to anger and frustration because life was a mess. The scars were deep and I had disconnected.
    That season was my most anxiety-filled season and the deepest depression I had walked in. Yes, some may argue that it was because the season was hard. Trust me, it wasn’t. Because with God I have walked joyfully through much more difficult seasons because he helped heal each of those scars. With Him, I can do all things and without Him, I fail in my own strength.

Don’t Eat The Doughnut

“Don’t eat the doughnut!” I felt these words in my spirit the minute I smelled the deliciousness in the room. I have a lot of food weaknesses. But there is something about the soft and sweet maple bar that will make me cave every time. I tell myself just one won’t matter. That a little bit of gluten and a little bit of sugar will not hurt me much and the delight for the moment will be worth it.
So I cave and I eat the doughnut.  And here lies the problem.

One doughnut may have been fine. But I have an emotional attachment to food. When I open the door to the one doughnut the next day when I am faced with an opportunity to cave again I will.  If I have hit some major stressors I will justify and tell myself, well I had gluten and sugar yesterday so I may as well. And the shield is down, the armor exposed and the battle is lost. All because I didn’t listen to those four little words. “Don’t eat the doughnut!”
Some of us in the battle of our illnesses have been given clear direction on how to be well. Most often that lies within the healthy choices we put in our bodies and exercise.  To do the things that will give a harvest of health we must take action. I can’t sit around waiting for health and eat the doughnut, or skip the gentle exercises and complain when I can hardly move the next day. For me personally, each day that I cave, makes me feel like I have to start all over at climbing the huge mountain.  My flares, thyroid, eyes, dizziness, and heart are all often the direct result of me not obeying what I know is right for my body.

It IS hard in this society to live a clean and healthy lifestyle. There are temptations all around us. The cravings are real as your husband is across the room eating everything you can’t touch and you have been living on vegetables for a week.  I want to be ‘normal’ and feel well and I want the junk too. But here is the reality, If I want health I need to listen to my body. I need to listen to the wise counsel that says, “Don’t do it, don’t eat the doughnut.”

I am at the bottom of the mountain again. I now weigh more than I ever have in my life, my pain levels are off the charts and all the other symptoms in a flare.
I have bee so lenient that I now have to start clawing my way back up to health from scratch. So I am building my truth tips to saying no to the doughnut and yes to my health, maybe they will help someone else as well. I have risen before and I will do it again!

1. Have alternatives handy-
When I am at a party, event or running around town with the hubby, I will cave every single time if I get hungry and I have no other choices around me. Keeping a bag of almonds, a healthy drink, or other allowed foods will keep me in check when the worst cravings arise.

2. Recognize your triggers-
It is important to examine your food triggers. Stress, emotions, loneliness, and boredom are my biggest triggers. Find alternatives to those food triggers that do not cover the issue, but address it. For example, I now know if I am eating out of boredom, I need to start writing, painting or play with the puppy. If I am lonely I reach out to others. If I am stressed,  I deal with the issue of looking at God’s truth about anxiety and worry instead of eating and just covering the problem in a moment.

3. DRINK-  
Dehydration is a health plan killer. If I get dehydrated, my crazy brain thinks I am hungry and I try to fill the void up with food. I feel foggy, achy, moody and all around off if I am not drinking my water. A bottle that I refill is my best aid. I don’t like the taste of water in a glass, weird I know and I don’t like water from the tap. So for me, a good filter, a bottle and even some slices of lime or lemon help me stay on track.

4. Start small-
If I try to cut out everything in one day and exercise an hour at a time right out of the slump, I will hurt, be frustrated and quit.
So I start usually by going gluten-free and drinking my water. I add some activity to my daily. I start slow. Then I add extra changes to health such as food restrictions and more time exercising and moving.

5. Be intentional and realistic-
My goal is health. Yes, I want to lose all this extra weight but ultimately I want to feel good and not be in a messy flare. I need to be intentional in reaching my goals. I will not be successful just wishing for it.  Know what you want and make the choices to get there.
I need to remember I did not develop bad habits overnight and it will take time to see my result. I will still crave the foods for a season and I will still want to eat the doughnut. Walking in true health for me is not denying the struggle, it is taking up my shield and overcoming the battle.

writing for joy
It is time to stand and hear with a heart that listens.

My 7 Truths to a Victory Mindset

66693161_10219523614665988_5838398995369558016_nDigital art by awakened_arts

I remember the first time the lie that I was less than crept into my mind.
I remember the first time that my illness had begun to define me.
I remember the time that my husband was laid off and we lost everything.
I remember the loss of my father and the sick filling that he is really not on this earth that hits the pit of my stomach whenever a memory comes to the surface.

All these things and more at one point overwhelmed my mind and kept me swirling in discouragement.

Then one day I was awakened to the truth that I don’t have to let a thought of past hurts, discouragements or defeat be the focus of my mind. I realized I did not have to live in the swarm of messy thoughts. I could remember my promises in the midst of the noise. I have learned how to take steps to a victory mindset.

 

Here are the 7 truths to MY Victory Mindset:

  1. Feel the moment and move on
    I am not saying I never remember the hurts and broken moments. But I have learned to let myself feel the moment and acknowledge that it is painful.  Then I move on to truths that bring about victory.
    For example; if I wake up in a fibromyalgia flare of pain all over my body, instead of being defeated that I am in a flare and all the panic that had once overwhelmed me, I now remember the truths that I have victory over this. I will not stay in a flare. The flare gives me the chance to slow down. I take the time to let my self be frustrated, but I then I move on to victory mindset instead of discouragement.

    2. Fill my mind with the truth that brings life-
    Let’s be honest, sometimes life on this earth can be less than amazing.  But for me, life stays in the gutter longer if I focus on the mess rather than the blessed around me.
    When I am intentional to fill my mind with truths that bring life my whole atmosphere can shift.
    So what kind of truths can bring life when you are surrounded on all sides? How do you train your mind to have a victory mindset?
    I write encouraging affirmations and keep them where I will see them. On note cards or post-it notes. I take the time to remember what I can do, what I have accomplished or my dreams and desires. When a negative thought comes if it is not something that needs addressing I will immediately replace it with a positive thought. If I don’t have my own positive thoughts at the moment I remember other peoples victories. Or I remember my simple victories no matter how small they may seem, even getting out of bed some days is a victory and I can be thankful for it!

    3. Speak the life instead of the mess-
        Oh, boy how this one has been a lesson! I am still having to work on making it a habit of speaking life around me rather than speaking about all the junk I am going through all the time. People will avoid you when all you have to talk about is your mess. I have learned this the hard way and it made my struggles worse to feel so alone. In the season of mess talking, I was trying to explain why I was limited because you can’t always see when I am ill, or I would vent my hurts because I wasn’t sure how to process them. But when the mess became all I saw it became all I talked about. How fun I was to be around… NOT.
    I want to be an encourager. I want to be one that speaks words that encourage and lift up. This may take practice but it can be done. It starts in doing until it becomes your habit. When I have nothing positive to say, I can start by speaking about what I WANT to see. I can prophesy my victory mindset. 

    Prophesy means to pronounce.
    Prophesy your Promise: is a great listen at the end of the post!

    4. Be aware of your influences around you-
    Just as it is important to be aware of your own speaking. It is important to be aware of the words and attitudes of those around you. Let’s face it there are times you may not be able to change your atmosphere. You may not be able to move, or change jobs, or leave a situation that is overwhelmingly negative. But you can be aware of the influence, and when that atmosphere has become draining, put more efforts into your own victory mindset. If you are in an atmosphere that is constantly negative, unhealthy and destructive and you do have the ability to change it, then change may just be necessary for your best mindset.  Surround yourself with people that encourage, lift you up and inspire.

     

    5. Speak life into others-
    One of the biggest tools in my toolbelt for victorious mindset has been to speak life and encouragement into other peoples lives. For me, it was easier to believe great things for others and it was easier to see their worth. By speaking into their lives not only am I speaking the truth and blessed to encourage them, but I also begin to hear back that I too am worth such thoughts and blessings. To see a shift in their day brings victory to my own mindset.

    6. Invest in Spiritual Health-
    I can not emphasize this one enough. I was born to spend time with the Lord. When I forsake that part of me, I just do not function mentally the same way. I get discouraged, frustrated and deflated so quickly. It is much harder for me to walk in the truth of victory when I am not reminding myself of all that has been gifted to me. I find new hope, dreams and fresh vision after my time with prayer, worship and reading the word. This is my must for a victory mindset.

    7. GET TO DOING-
    Ultimately this is the most important aspect to walking in a victory mindset. To be victorious you must take action. You will not achieve anything by staying in the negative, staying in the same old position and making no changes. You want to find those things that bring about life for you and then do them!
    Serve others, find your dreams and interests, take the time to practice your victory mindset. Start with just one consistent action a day, and then add more as you have made that one a habit.  Taking action will propel you forward to living in victory instead of shadowed with defeat.

    This is what has helped me become blessed instead of focusing on the mess. I encourage you, my friend, to share with others what has helped you.
    Feel free to leave a comment on your victories!!

    Prophesy means to pronounce. Get to pronouncing LIFE
    Prophesy your Promise by Bryan and Katie Torwalt

     

Discontent? Perhaps its time to Disconnect!

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My husband is most often a happy go lucky encourager. It isn’t very often that he becomes cloudy and in the dumps. So I asked him the other day if his emotions come in waves at all like the hormonal mad woman that I can be at times lately. I asked if he feels discontent and just doesn’t show it. He thought for a moment and his answer resonated with me.

He said, “I feel a quick rise in frustration or joy when things in life happen. I get mad when someone cuts me off in work traffic or a customer comes at me in ignorance. It is a moment and fades. But you know, what really gets to my emotions is the posts on social media. I have to be mindful to not spend much time on the negative junk that is posted. I can rise in anger at injustice or politics. I can sink in the dumps when I see what others have where I lack in talent or luxuries. I can feel unmotivated when others are doing what I want to be doing but don’t know how or feel I can’t leave my profession. A lot is to be said about what your thoughts are on. Until social media, I was a lot easier going than I am now if I let the junk in.”

I too have felt this very thing. It starts as a little stirring of discontent. Perhaps as you scroll you see someone far more talented than you see yourself. You compare and your brain begins to scramble with all the thoughts of how you can improve or how you can measure up, or even how you just can’t. Then you see a political post that you are the polar opposite of and you grow frustrated how far one way or the other politics has swung. Your mind is filled with even more scramble and emotions.
Maybe you make an innocent comment on a post and you are attacked with bullies hitting you in very personal ways. Add more scramble and discontent. Then you disconnect from those that are around you.
If you are unmotivated and discontent in your creativity perhaps you need to disconnect from comparison and seeing what everyone else is doing.
If attitudes you hear and read are affecting your own attitude, disconnect from the ugliness. The onslaught of thoughts can be so overpowering, the mind becomes scrambled and what is truly important can be tangled in the mess. Perhaps the rise of depression is linked to time spent online and not face to face with others, or tangible creative opportunities and living life without the screen in your way.

Maybe the solution for discontentment is to disconnect from social media outlets for a season, or online gaming. If you are just not resonating and connecting to people that are around you in the flesh it is important to see what is in your way. I saw a little girl crying and completely upset and her mother doing nothing more than scrolling her phone and pushing her child away. Another little boy fell and hit his head hard, and the mother had a very little reaction for her hurting child. We have to disconnect in alarming ways! We are not hearing the heart of others. We are not regulating our own emotions.

Social media, as a tool for marketing business or connecting with people, is great. But when seeds of discontent begin to be planted and the more you submerge into the cyber world the more discontent you can become, It can pour out into the attitude and emotions in the life around you. It is time to disconnect from the source of death and to reconnect with life-giving resources.

I ask you to listen to the words of wisdom of my love. If you are feeling disconnected or ‘off’ or if you are feeling more temperamental then perhaps look at how much time you are spending with screen time outlets as your social connection. Maybe it is time to disconnect from that screen and connect face to face.

The Empty Box

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I got this prayer box necklace from my aunt years ago and recently it got me to thinking.

Looking at the empty box, I could have worn this as just a pretty necklace over the years, or I could take my prayer and place it in the box, close to the heart. I chose to write my favorite scripture and put it in the box and whenever the necklace moved or I saw it in a reflection I would meditate and believe that word was qualified in my own life.  The empty box did not remain empty.

I use this, as an illustration, to show how we may take the time for our empty box during our downtime. We have spent all day, pouring out our energy and when we stop we are depleted. When we take the time to recharge,  we make choices. Those choices are to leave that box empty, fill it with distraction, or fill it with life.

For a season I found myself filling the empty box with distraction. Such as binge-watching Netflix or spending hours on my social media accounts when I wanted to just ‘chill’. Not before too long it became habitual and without any thought, I pick up my phone first thing in the morning and throughout the day, all day, and mindlessly scroll.
Then there is the other box in the room that grabs my time. As soon as I sit on my couch I would reach for my remote and scroll for an hour looking for something to watch.
Then one day it hit me, did I really just waste an hour (or hours)  scrolling nothingness?

There is a danger for me personally to use ‘nothing’ or distraction during down time. Before too long it becomes same old’ same old’ and if not careful I slip into the melancholy of nothingness and the empty box turns into a life of meh.

Think of your own life, are you working and going home and doing nothing? Is the place that you want to be in 5 years? I ask this because if you are filling your free time with nothingness or distractions, then in 5 years time, you will accomplish only keeping your box empty.

I know this may be an extreme thought, but for me it became extreme. I was created to write, paint, minister and to be present, yet I filled up a season of my life with nothingness and wondered why I was not getting anywhere. It all turned so quickly and without notice went from a few minutes of decompressing daily, into a lifestyle.

I am being exposed here. Not because it is fun to admit it, but because I know I am not alone and my hope is that others will see before the melancholy or time thief sets in. The thief of your time can also be a thief of your joy.

So what can you fill the empty box with?

I am determined to fill my life with things from the Lord through prayer, worship of all forms and pursuit of my future that He has planned for me. I want my empty box to become filled with life. So that I may pour it out onto others and not be running on a nothingness.  So that I may remain young and strong.

Psalm 103:5- He fills my life with good things so that I stay young and strong like an eagle.  

Sick of it All

 

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Sometimes you just have to get sick of it all. Sometimes you have to look at your situation and say this is enough. I will not live in this anymore, I surrender!

There is nothing the enemy loves more than to have you stay in the nasty. Sick, tired, oppressed, anxiety, depressed, angry, empty, fearful and just plain not living. He wants to immobilize you with the lies that this is it and how it is.  I was in that place and then one day I said God, I am sick of all this, I surrender, I can’t do this anymore. As I worshipped him and laid it all down I felt a new purpose rise within my soul.

I began to surrender in a new way. I had been fasting, praying, worshipping, reading the word and pressing into God like I have not in YEARS.
The praises on my lips began when at first I didn’t feel like praising at all. I would praise and praise until those praises shook my very being and began a change in me.

He meets me right where I am EVERY TIME. If I get to the point of being sick of it all and remove it all from my sight and set my sight on HIM. I had to take my eyes off of what I was seeing in my flesh. I had to stop looking at it, stop living in it. It was not my life it was my situation and my God is a God who has complete power over every situation. 

Recently these days, I have felt an incredible urge to contend for others and their needs. I was in bed one night and woke up and could not sleep. So I began to pray and with the spirit of God on me, I lifted many people before God for different reasons. When I came to those needing healing, a new level of the presence of God hit me. I could not move, I was in awe and I saw myself on the floor, face to the ground and Jesus over me, saying I have healed you, and the presence hit me so strongly that I could not control the prayers they broke out from my heart to my lips. 

Since this experience, I have felt a new level of healing, and a ridiculous closeness to the father, I am absolutely buzzing with the presence of the Lord. Oh, how I pray this is just an incredible beginning because I was absolutely sick of it all and now…oh wow… I am in absolute AWE of Him in an all-new way!

This has become my prayer: “God, we are sick of it all. Sick of the lies, that pull us from the living. Invade the places that we have held back from you. It is time for the rejoicing. No matter what we are seeing in the flesh. You fight with us in the spirit. You go before us and we praise you for it. “

When we are sick of looking at the mess and ready to put our eyes on him continually, we will see new and amazing things. I will not be shaken, I will not forget what He has done.

Psalm 16:8- I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

I will PRAISE Him and Raise My Hallelujah! No matter what is going on around me. For when I am fixed on Him, everything else pales in comparison.

 

Give a listen and just let your ‘stuff’ go~ Raise a Hallelujah~

 

The Sparrow

Sparrow Blog Instagram: awakened_arts

The Sparrow has been on my mind so much lately. In fact, I drew this Sparrow weeks ago when I gave one of the characters in my Middle-Grade book that I am currently writing a mark of a sparrow.
I find it interesting as I looked up sparrows, once I knew my main character bore the mark, that a sparrow often symbolizes joy. This is perfect, as it lines up with the call of my character in the story.
Here I have had sparrows on my mind, and they can often symbolize the very gift of Joy the Lord has given me to share with others.

Today I discovered, I have a new Facebook friend that calls her ladies, Sparrows. I asked her why the sparrow was so relevant to her and she stated;
“Knowing that when God takes care of the Sparrows as they didn’t value much according to man; HE would always take care of us the same.” (Valerie Miller)

Luke 12:6 –  Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.
This verse turns my mind to think about one of the causes of depression. Not knowing our worth. Not seeing ourselves through the eyes of the creator. How often can we look at nature and think it is so beautiful, or look at a young animal and think how precious, yet we can not look at ourselves with the same value?
Has not the masterful creator held you with a great value?
How can you look upon the face of His wonderful creation and only see the lack?
He only sees the great value, not the flaws.
He sees your full worth and call.
A call He set aside only for you to do, and if the enemy can entrap us in feeling like we have no value, then we hold back from doing all we are created for.
What if the sparrow, saw her wings, but never understood their value?
What if she never put them to use because she thought they lacked worth?
She would be a target for prey as she would sit vulnerably and not fly away.
She would miss the beauty her wings would bring her as she took flight, soaring over the earth.
What are you missing out on today, because you are not seeing your full value of your gift?
What part of yourself are you hiding because you think it lacks worth, that another needs to see in order to find their own?

Today my friend is the day you see yourself in the eye of the creator.
Far more valuable are you to Him than even the sparrow who is remembered and cared for.
Ask Him today, to see yourself with new eyes. Hold fast to what you are shown and take flight!

Matthew 10:31- “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

Song: His eye on the sparrow 

 

Joy Despite the Pain is Not Denial but a Necessity!​

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Joy despite the pain is not denial but a necessity. These are the words the Lord spoke to me days after the darkest, lowest point in my life.
Let me back up just a bit, before that revealing moment.
In 2010 I had been through the darkest valley I had ever known. I was a church-going, woman of God, that loved my family, loved my husband, loved my kids and my friends and all of a sudden, it wasn’t enough. I won’t go into the details that lead to this valley at this time. Just that I was in one.
In this valley of death, I was ready to end my life. I began to cut people away from me. I didn’t see it at first. In the beginning, it was because someone wronged me, and chop, they were out of my life. Then it was someone wasn’t around for me the way I needed them, and chop, they were out of my life.  Then it became a chopping block for no other reason than I was done with people. I wanted to hide away. I wanted to end all my physical pain that was blinding and no end in sight. I felt worthless, I felt hindering to others, unwanted (because I didn’t want myself) and unloved (because I could not love myself). I only saw my lack and hated myself for it. I truly hated me and the mess I was in.

The baffling thing is, on the outside, I seemed to have it all together. I was strong, I was faithful, I was serving, I was blessed… BUT
Suicide and major depression are not spoken of in the church very often or perhaps even not at all. Women are going to church Sunday mornings with a smile on their face, all the while dying inside. They feel guilty for dying inside, they feel weak and unworthy for feeling this weight they can’t explain.
Some will keep that mask on their face until, like me at that moment, they are ready to end it all.

I was sobbing in the bathtub, I had been told some very negative things by doctors, ” you have to live this way, the pain will not kill you, you don’t want to get better if you won’t try XYZ,”  lets forget I had tried A-W and was exhausted and broke. I was blinded by the opiates they had put me on for the pain and I was just done. I had it planned. Submerge in the tub inhale deeply and end it. My husband knowing something was off, sat on the other side of the bathroom door, banging on it begging for me to let him in.
I stopped crying answered in a very calm voice, ” I am fine, I just need some time.” He stood on the other side, quiet.

At this moment, I was not thinking of my worth, I was not thinking that my family needed me, my family loved me, all I could think was to end the pain both physically and emotionally. I dreamed of the feeling of nothing.

With a final heart plea, I said, “God you promised me joy, where is it.”

It was THE most defining moment in my life. He answered my spirit and said, ” you have joy, you just need to find it.”

My despair cleared and for the first time in 10 months, I had hope stirring in me. I had no idea the journey I would embark on, but that moment with my savior, truly saved my life.

In this process, Writing for Joy was created. I still hurt, I still was broken, I still had limits to my abilities, but as I sought God on what was robbing my joy, each day a bit more joy filled the holes of empty in my heart. One day while still walking in physical pain, but feeling joy again in my heart, I heard God speak clearly to me, ” Joy despite the pain, is not denial but a necessity.” This became my new mantra in life. I was still waiting for physical healing but in the meantime, I was learning my circumstances did not have to dictate my joy.

You see I needed this joy to survive. It did not matter that I was walking and have been walking for years in pain, the Joy is still mine. Through this process, God taught me how to regain it and obtain it.

I still have days the darkness tries to come in. But He gently reminds me, that Joy is my gift, waiting fresh each morning.

Now there is action that I take, to obtain and maintain my joy.

I have a feeling, that this blog and all these years of learning after the brokenness will be my beauty from ashes moment.

I will begin to write my new book: Joy Despite the Pain is not Denial but a Necessity

My heart is to speak into the heart of others, that have been hiding behind the mask, walking in the ‘normal’ every day while dying inside little by little. Not because they want to hide, but because perhaps they don’t even realize they are. Or maybe, just maybe, they don’t realize that they are not the only ones.

This scripture above in my heading is so relevant to me, as in the darkest season I had been bedridden in pain, He says to me RISE UP and I will speak to you and He has been so faithful both physically and spiritually. So I RISE UP and no longer walk in shame of where I was, but in JOY that I can use my story, to touch the lives of others that may be blinded in the pain at the moment.

Remember!! Joy despite the pain is not denial but a necessity.