Fall brings the excitement of a new school year, fun holidays, and reunions with friends.
As great as all this sounds, it can be tainted with a flood of overwhelm. Shopping for school supplies, costumes, and turkeys when combined with a super-sized schedule of games, meets, and concerts can leave our summer energy quickly depleted.
Grumbling can creep into our daily routine, as exhaustion enters and restoration departs. It steals our joy and reshapes our minds, blinding us to the good that still abounds all around us.
But there is something simple we can do to combat our griping. We can push out our negative thoughts and replace them with gratitude. Giving thanks can take place in a crowded carpool line or at a game. Better still, gratitude sends signals of reward to our depleted brains. Dopamine floods our weary minds, a chemical that gives us a mini-energy boost, lifting us out of our complaints.
What are you grateful for today?
The time it takes for a simple praise might just be the gift you need to make it through the day.
How often do you find yourself snared in the comparison trap? Am I thin enough? Productive enough? Smart enough? Kind enough? Faithful enough?
I’ve found myself there more than a few times, friend. And I’m guessing that you have too based on the “Be Better than the Joneses” soundtrack that plays on many of our screens 24-7.
Comparison leaks into almost every part of our daily lives. Commercials tout quick fixes for our faults. Our neighbors’ newest addition makes us question our worth. Our children are measured at school and on the athletic field.
I’m not saying that all comparison is a bad thing. Sometimes it can motivate us to do great things in Christ’s name. If we see someone in need and we’re more fortunate, that comparison can lead to acts of love if we allow it to catapult us into helpful action.
That said, we do need to make an honest effort to prevent comparison from ruling our lives, choices, and felt worth. When we covet things like our neighbor’s possessions, looks, and accomplishments to the point of diminished self worth, it’s likely time to seek release from the comparison trap. At that point, we’re diminishing the value of Christ’s creation: us.
Plus, finding our feet caught in an unhealthy comparison trap can bring bigger problems if we allow the wounds it inflicts to infect us with things like exhaustion, poor health, and a bad attitude. These are all consequences that might just dim Christ’s light in us and slow our sanctification.
Perhaps to follow His lead, we might breathe as He did? His quick rest away from adoring crowds demonstrated that our earthly minds and bodies require rest to give their best to others. Time to connect with the Father and regain perspective. Time to replace comparison-gone-rouge and replace it with Christ-who-is-always-right.
Time to run your own race (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Not her race or his, but yours.
Your race, authored by the Master of the Universe, Chief Star-Scatterer, and Lord of Your Life.
So friend, before you count yourself out in the comparison game, see yourself through His lens and love your life’s custom lane.
Your crooked smile? Christ-crafted with care.
Your stutter? Made in Heaven.
Your smaller-than-the-next home? Provided by the One above.
Friend, let’s make space to breathe, reconnect, and let Christ release us from harmful comparison. Ask Him to infuse His perfect love in and let go of lesser things! I’ll be right there beside you inviting Him to set us all free!
Hi friends and faithful readers! Yes, I’ve been gone for quite a while, but the pandemic has inspired me to get back to writing again! I’d love the chance to encourage you during these tumultuous times if you’ll join me.
And what better way to kick-start my blogging return than to share some exciting news JUST FOR YOU?!
Drumroll… I’m doing a GIVE-AWAY!
But first, here’s a little about it…
Do you suffer from “hurry sickness?” Treat your soul to the brand new book, Growing Slow: Lessons on Un-Hurrying Your Heart from an Accidental Farm Girl by Jennifer Dukes Lee! With her unique grace, humor, and warmth, she shares her personal struggle with a life hustled to exhaustion, but rescued by living fresh perspectives rooted in faith. Through Scripture, her “growing slow” life on an Iowa farm, and poignant personal stories, she takes you by the hand and guides you toward peace. This book will give you the tools you need to BREATHE in a harried world where hurry reigns. I pray it heals your heart as much as it has mine!
Thoughts careen off the corners of my mind faster than I can capture them. What do I need to do tomorrow? What do the kids need from me? What is urgent and not? What is my husband’s schedule? What help do I need from my parents? What’s priority for work?
As I pull the covers up tightly, I beg God to stop my thought barrage so I can catch some much-needed sleep. To place me in His sweet embrace so sleep will soothe my shredded mind.
Does this happen to you too? Your day is done, yet your mind is mulling. You long for sleep, yet your thoughts flail aimlessly like the tentacles of an angry octopus…
This is when I try to seek God’s whispers of self care. To obey His call to rest and slow my pace. I ask my in-dwelling Holy Spirit to cover me with calm and patience so I can care for myself and others in a way that honors Him. I don’t always succeed, but when I do, it opens the door to great gifts!
The beauty of complying with this call is the fruit patience produces. Invite patience – this beautiful fruit of the spirt – into your life. Allow God’s timing to rule over the world’s. Even better – patience can produce another fruit of the spirit: peace. (Galatians 5:22)
You’ll be amazed at what can happen once patience, and then peace, prune back your excess thoughts and the anxiety that accompanies them.
Here are five ways I’ve found patience can produce peace…
1. Inner peace – Inviting patience to preside over our lives produces an inner peace. It reminds us to take a breath when we feel anxiety and “rush-mode” coming on. To slow our thoughts and capture one at a time. To recognize that multi-tasking is actually a myth, as science shows our brains can truly only tackle one task well at a time. To forgive ourselves for forgetting the five thoughts that wandered into the wilderness of our minds.
2. Peace with others – When we are more patient with ourselves, we become more patient with others. We realize that the same thoughts racing an Indy 500 through our minds are running through everyone’s minds! That we all are desperately trying to catch up with our thoughts and that some just happen to escape the holding pin of our imperfectly human minds! That we all can be a little kinder and gentler with each other, knowing the battle we all face inside.
3. Clarity of thought – When we recognize our minds are treadmilling, our hearts are racing, and our breath is beyond its normal pace, it‘s God’s invitation to slow our thoughts, capture one at a time, and seek God’s grace to catch the ones that most honor Him, while leaving the others behind for now. Once our minds, hearts and breathing have slowed with God’s help, we find that He has provided us with a beautiful white space on which we can create His masterpiece. We enter a highway of thought motivated by His way, light and truth. One that is unfettered by the ways of this world but infused with the gifts God has for us.
4. Ability to hear God’s voice – Once we’ve accepted the call to clarity of thought in line with Christ’s, we’ve course-corrected our soul’s steering wheels, and we’re ready to ride alongside God. Clearing the clutter of our minds allows us easier access to our indwelling Holy Spirit, where we can curl up and let Him guide us down His path. Down a path where His voice shines brighter than any worldly worries coming our way.
5. Focus on eternal peace – When God’s voice is the loudest one in our minds, we’re sure to win. With His guidance at the helm of your heart, your guaranteed destination is Success Lane. Not success as the world would see it – but better – success that will lead us down the path to eternal peace. To a place beyond our wildest dreams where all the hurt, pain, and tears of this world are gone forever. Where peace abounds and love presides. Where hearts connect and divisions disappear. Where ultimate peace and patience reign.
Christ invites us to “learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” (Matthew 28) I’m in! Want to join me as we invite Him in to pace our race? Let’s embrace patience so we can seek His incomparable peace!
Make a comment on this blog post or on any of my social media and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Into the Deep: Diving into a Life of Courageous Faith by my super sweet friend, Lauren Gaskill. The winner will be notified by Tuesday, March 26, 2019. Good luck!
About this powerful and restorative book: Be prepared to be inspired, moved, and empowered by Lauren’s message! She leads us through her real life faith struggles with unabashed honesty, humor and warmth. From times when she professed to have less than a mustard seed of faith to learning to fully embrace Christ with steadfast courage, she offers empathy, inspiration, scripture, and practical steps to deepen our faith walks so we can live out the courageous faith our hearts desperately need and desire!
Lauren’s ministry: Learn more about Lauren’s exciting work as the founder and President of the nationwide ministry, She Found Joy! I’m honored to have been invited to work alongside her and the talented She Found Joy team! We invite you to join us for one of our Ladies Night Out events where Lauren and her ministry team provide a special evening of worship, food, fun and fellowship! See you there as we cross the country to a city near you! In the meantime, tune in to our weekly Podcasts and get all the latest She Found Joy updates by visiting our Facebook Page!