A Cheerful Heart

For the past few weeks I have been battling my fibromyalgia pain in a BIG way. Most of the time I can manage the pain and it stays around a 2-3 (1-10 scale). Lately, I have let anxiety and worry really take me over and I know that my rising pain levels are a direct result of that. For the past few days my pain has been a consistent 8 or 9. Those levels make it so very hard to function day to day with all that is on my daily to do list. I have let it get me down. I have cried a lot of tears and felt pretty hopeless. This has been the worse bout of my fibro pain since I was initially diagnosed. As the pain persists, my mental and emotional state has begun to deteriorate.

But there are positives to be found in all of it. First, I have a tribe of ladies who show up daily to encourage me and pray for me and keep me positive. That is truly amazing. I am so thankful for their sweet voices and thoughts. I feel them standing next to me in my fight. Secondly, I am praying a lot and feel myself drawing closer to God through my morning devotionals and quiet time. I am spending more time in the word, really studying and leaning into what God is saying to me.

This morning, I woke and my first feeling was pain. I had a hard time just getting out of bed and instantly my mood deflated. (Not the way I like to start my day). I stumbled out of bed and poured myself my morning coffee (my cup of ambition – typed in my best Dolly Parton voice) and headed to my office for my quiet time. My morning devotional could NOT have been more fitting! (Don’t you just love when God does small things like that – just when we need them!?). “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” That first line…gave me chills. God was saying the best way for me to feel better was to start with my heart. How? What does a cheerful heart look like? It’s a heart filled with gratitude and thankfulness. It’s a heart that counts blessings! My devotional went on to explain that a cheerful heart can improve one’s health – spiritually, emotionally, and even physically! (Just what I need!). And then this…the line that hit me hard…the words that I’m carrying with me all day…”Let these divine nutrients soak into the depths of your being. Let them strengthen and enhance your health.”  My heart condition (cheerfulness) will affect my health. Does this mean that I don’t need to take my medicine…..NO. It means I need to work on my perspective and focus on what is in my heart. My cheerful heart is medicine for ALL of my being.

Probably not anything earth shattering…not a giant revelation…but rather, the gentle nudge, the small a-ha moment that God knew I needed today. How’s your heart? Would you describe it as cheerful? Make it your goal today to fill your heart with gratitude and thankfulness, and let that be your medicine. Soak in all of that goodness. Have a blessed day. Much love!

The fruit we bear

What kind of tree are you? I heard this analogy on the radio just the other day and it has stuck with me. The question has been lingering in my mind for days. I think that there is a reason that certain things stay with us and others don’t. I believe that God places things on us to create teachable moments for us. He. knows what I need and where my heart is, and it is no accident this metaphor is still with me. What kind of tree are you? When someone bumps into you (tree), what kind of fruit falls? I’ll wait while that sinks in…..

When the weight of life becomes crushing. When heartache breaks you. When anxiety paralyzes you. When isolation cripples your soul. How do you respond?

Honestly, let me make it a little less “heavy”…. When someone cuts you off in traffic (do I even remember how to drive?) When your text goes unread. When you are left out of a group gathering. When you get your feelings hurt. How do you respond?

Yep, I got my toes stepped on by this one. I had to do a serious heart check as I pondered this question. What kind of fruit do I bear? When times get hard, I do not always respond the way that I would like to. Anxiety and fear cause emotions and reactions to come out sideways. The fruit that falls from my tree when I’m shaken is not always good fruit. Initially, my reaction to all of this was to beat myself up and wish that I could just “be better.” I did the whole self-loathing thing for a minute, held a pity party for one, and then I quit. I left the party. I will never be perfect. Not. Even. Close. But I can strive each day to become more Christ-like. I can pray and ask and allow the Holy Spirit to produce those fruits in me. I can seek Him first in all that I do. I can fall down and get back up again, knowing that He still loves me and that no matter how many times I stumble, He STILL loves me.

I will always remember this tree metaphor. And when I am “bumped” I will think about what kind of fruit falls.

Only the Holy Spirit

fruitsLockdown. Shelter in place. Stay at home. No matter what it is called, it still means the same thing. We are ordered to stay in our homes. Together. For an undetermined amount of time. Of course we all love our families and we all want to do all that we can to keep ourselves and our communities safe. But let’s just get real for a minute…it ain’t easy. There are six of us who live in our house. Six humans and one very rambunctious, energetic dog. No matter how much we love and care about each other, we are still going to get on each other’s nerves. We are going to bicker and argue. We are going to have ups and downs.

I woke early this morning to steal the quiet moments that exist when everyone else is still sleeping. The weight of the coming day and week was bearing down on me. In my prayer I wept and cried to God “I’m not sure if I can do this…” God gently nudged me with “You can’t…but I can.”

These words: love, peace, self-control, peace, goodness, gentleness, kindness, joy. They are not going to come naturally or easily to me during these difficult times. Trying to teach from home, manage the house, help my own children do their school work, and help my whole family navigate this storm is so stressful to me! Those words do not describe my demeanor over the past few days. And its hard for me to admit that I need help…but the reality is, I need help. So my prayer for my household today and going forward is that I learn to rely on the Holy Spirit to change me. I will lean into to the power of the Spirit. “Only the Holy Spirt can produce the kinds of fruits in our lives…” (Galatians 5:22)

No Place I’d Rather Be

set a fire

Lately I have found myself in a dry season spiritually. I have felt lost at times and very far from God. The close, dependent relationship I used to have with my heavenly Father – the one where we talked daily and where I worried less and relied more – that is not currently where I’m at. I know that life is about ebbs and flows – and in all relationships there are periods of closeness and periods of distance. But I am NOT okay with where I am at in my relationship with God. Continue reading “No Place I’d Rather Be”

Noise

 

noise   I am an elementary teacher. I’m fairly accustomed to the constant hum of noise from a roomful of kids. And that’s nothing to the noise level found in a cafeteria with 100+ kiddos. I am momma to 5 kids. Rarely are all seven of us ever in the house – much less the same room – but when we are, there is noise. (This momma loves that noise, by the way).

When you think about it, there is noise in all aspects of our lives. TV’s are often on several hours a day in our homes. Our noses tend to be buried in some sort of screen several hours a day. We are constantly being bombarded with noise…data, tweets, posts, feeds, videos, and on and on. The other day I stepped out of my car to pump gas and there was a screen blaring commercials and music. Constant noise.

For me, the constant noise – the ever-present distractions become almost comforting. When I’m listening to a tv show, or scrolling mindlessly through the same feed I’ve read through already three times I don’t have to think about “the other stuff.” And sometimes its just easier to drown out the hard stuff. But easy isn’t always best.

I’ve recently tried to start eliminating some of the daily distractions so that I can consciously seek after these deeper things. I’m going after peace. When I’m not busy worrying about social media, or Season 5 of Grey’s Anatomy, my mind is forced to really ponder on bigger thoughts. Sometimes I end up praying…talking with God. Other times I’ve ended up worshipping – just me on my own. I’ve also found myself thinking about all of the many things I am so grateful for.

I’m certainly not trying to say that social media is bad or that we shouldn’t ever turn on Netflix…not at all. I think what I’m discovering is that distractions can very easily take up all the space in our heads and not allow any time for us to reflect on what’s really important. These breaks from the noise have been so refreshing for my mind and my spirit. I encourage you tofind your quiet!

Total Surrender

Here we go. Another new year. Another fresh start. Another blank slate with endless possibilities. Another (insert your own cliche here). I actually do love a new year and the thought that it’s time to start over. But then I also get aggravated with myself that I NEED to start over. Why can’t I just “keep going” rather than always needing a restart!? It’s like the diet I begin EVERY Monday morning!! So I sat down to “restart” another blog with a New Year post about resolutions and inspiration and all that nonsense. But as I ponder on the idea of resolutions it sort of hit me! Resolutions – for me – just don’t work. And here is why…When I make resolutions for myself it really becomes all about me and MY ability (or lack thereof) to follow through and accomplish. I become fixated on my goal and my strength and my willpower and my ability. I rely on ME to make things the way I want them. So this year I’m NOT making resolutions for things that I want to do. Instead I’m going to turn it ALL over to God, because I KNOW that HE CAN work all things out for me. He will be my strength and my will. If and when I become more reliant on Him and completely surrender my will to Him I am certain that He will work through me and in me. My desires and wants and needs become less important when I allow God to work His will in my life. So no resolutions for this girl…this year, its about total surrender!