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.

10 Ways to Bless away the Stress

I mentioned in a previous post that by being a blessing and serving others, the focus was off of me and my ‘issues’ that were leading to anxiety. I literally was able to bless away the stress. To be quite honest though, that was not my intent, but it was the fruit of it all.
Now mind you, the motive is key.  If you bless others hoping to get something from them in return, you can be very disappointed and if you are not careful it can sow seeds of resentment.

10 ways to Bless away the Stress

1. Get involved in a local fundraiser in your community.
If you are not able to give financially, you can see if there is an area that needs your involvement through volunteering.
My favorite events from the past have been fundraisers for child abuse prevention, cancer research, rare disease awareness, newborn advance screening efforts,  youth groups, pregnancy counseling, school supply drives, and holiday gift baskets.

2. Send texts, cards, or letters of encouragement.  One of my hardest seasons left me very lonely, so I wrote letters to strangers. I encouraged them and shared what was on my heart. I had a PO BOX set up specifically. Remember the key is to encourage and edify, building someone up.
I had many replies back and corresponded for some time. I even obtained a very close friend as an added joy.
If strangers are not your thing, perhaps a pen pal to soldiers, prisoners or the many efforts asking for cards to those that are ill.

3. Leave flowers or your favorite craft on a doorstep to surprise someone. You may want to leave them for a friend, neighbor, or even local business that you frequent.

4. Serve someone that is ill or has a recent loss in the family. Meals, babysitting, dog walking, and house cleaning are all ways that you could bless someone with this need.

5. Give health packs to the homeless. I have handed out packs with water, wipes, soft granola bars, feminine products, socks, hand warmers, etc.

6. Visit the elderly. You could ask the staff at your local elder care facility if there is anyone that has a need for visitors. Or you can offer to set up activities in the common area. We have held Christmas Caroling in the lobby.

7. Far and away. It can be life-changing for you and a blessing to those you serve, to go on a mission trip. There are many options out there to serve all interests. If you are not one that feels comfortable or able to travel, consider supporting someone else’s trip financially.

8. Purchase gift cards and give as the needs arise. Often if families are out of work or have loved ones in the hospital, receiving gift cards can ease the burden.  Grocery stores, Gas stations, and restaurants are some of my favorites. If you know someone that has been under the weather, gift cards for self-care are great too!

9. Engage in conversation. Some of my most blessed moments are conversations in the grocery store with the clerk or encouraging my waitress in some small way. You don’t have to talk for hours. Just a kind word and a thank you can go a long way.

10. Host a community event giving others the chance for connection: Christmas caroling followed by hot chocolate,  lead a bible study or book group at a coffee shop, organize a block party for your neighborhood, or host a game night at a local meeting place are some examples.

I would love to hear more creative ideas, so please share!