Fighting for Joy: 5 Ways to Find Peace

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This is what it looks like when I launch a new blog, finish an eBook, and move all in the same week. It's strange that the magical mess makers are conveniently missing from the photo. They're like ninjas.

At the end of the day, Matt swoops in like a knight in shining armor and has the entire thing gleaming in 15 minutes.  Oh how I love him! I breathe a weary sigh of relief and retreat to a quiet spot for a few minutes. Until the little tribe finds me. They always find me. 

But the funny thing is...when I am in the midst of the tornado of daily life and high heels are flying and dogs are chewing the heads off the toy goats...it's so difficult for me to remember that my knight is on his way. I forget that I have someone who saves the day. Every day.

Because my eyes are on the current crisis. 

It's similar to me & Jesus. During the hard days, I sometimes forget I have a savior who is ready and waiting to hear my cries...catching every tear. And believe me, there are tears. From mama and children. So much more now that we have THREE little loves. Three times the happiness, three times the feelings!

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A few days ago I read this in Psalms 55:6-8

Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee far away and stay in the desert...

I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.

I can so relate to that. Wanting to fly away to a quiet place...to gather my thoughts. Because I'm desperate for peace.  

And when mama ain't peaceful...ain't nobody peaceful. Can I get a holla from my mama tribe?! You know what I'm talkin' about.

It's a war in my mind. I am fighting against discontentment, overwhelm, and fear. I know Jesus desires the BEST for me. But the enemy is busy busy busy whispering lies. Recently, the lies have been:

"You can't finish all you have set out to do."

"You aren't a good enough mother."

"See how messy your house is right now? You're a failure."

I feel those thoughts creeping in. But I know it's not Jesus. Because it's not TRUTH. What lies are you believing today? Pinpoint them. And fight.

Fight for JOY.

And when you find the truth, make a plan. Want some suggestions? Here are 5 ways to find peace in the midst of chaos.

Root down. 

Fill your mind with encouragement. Read scripture (Psalms are my favorite). Read inspiring words. Blogs you love. When your spirit is strong and bolstered...when your roots are planted DEEP into contentment and abundance, you are much more apt to handle the day with joy and ease. Preferably, this happens before the day begins. But at this season in my life, with kiddos in our bed who magically wake up when I leave...that isn't happening much. Squeeze it in whenever you can. Analyze your life for any joy-takers. News sites. Toxic people. Poisonous thoughts. And stop indulging.

Breathe deep.

Literally. Breathing is a huge stress reliever. I will often go all day without a deep cleansing breath. Add a few sun salutations while you're at it. During meltdowns of the little girl variety, I will hold them and remind them to breathe and will have them do it with me by mimicking my own breathing. Because when you are flipping out...you sometimes need help getting back down off the ledge. 

Fill up.  

Self-care is a buzz word that you hear a lot lately. But it's much more than a buzz word. It's essential to your sanity. Take a bath. Create art. Photography. Watch your favorite TV show. There is no one perfect way...everyone has their own unique way to re-focus and wind down. But the key is to MAKE TIME. Even just a 10 minute soak in a hot tub with a glass of wine will do wonders for you. Slap on some Spotify, throw in some Epsom salts, oils, and light candles. Insta-spa! If you haven't read this piece by MaryBeth Bonfiglio...do it now. It's powerful and reminds me to be IN MY BODY daily. **It does contain strong language and ideas that are breathtaking and beautiful but different than my own truth. And that is why I love her so. I enjoy considering and understanding other spiritual journeys. It bolsters my own walk and makes all of us real and lovely to each other.

Plan escape.

It's so important to take regular time away for just you. Schedule it. Protect it. Enjoy it with no guilt. My favorite mini-escape lately includes a coffee in my hand while thrifting and spring rolls eaten in my van in the parking lot (where it's quiet!). If it's feasible for you to take a weekend away...do it! I try to do it a couple times a year (lately with nursing baby in tow). Create a sacred space in your home that you can retreat to. Even if it's your nightstand with candles and books. Lay on your bed and ESCAPE. Or a closet with a pillow. You can make any space sacred in that moment.

Dance more. 

I'm a big fan if the mid-afternoon dance party. You cannot remain stressed to the max when you are moving your body! Whether it be hooping or dancing on the coffee table to Let It Go (any other Frozen fans in the house?!)...you will release the tension in your muscles. It's a good thing.  Music is a powerful mood enhancer! Turn it up! The louder the better. Make a soundtrack for your life! Bonus: Dancing also initiates laughter. Laughter is essential. Don't go a day without it.

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Be intentional about fighting for your joy today. Do things that fill you up and bolster your spirit. Love YOURSELF...talk nice and allow yourself to rest. All while nourishing and caring for those around you.


What are your favorite self-care secrets?
Share them in the comments...
Let's encourage each other with ideas!
 

 

Pride vs. Brokenness

Pride. There are lots of different kinds of pride. Pride in your children. Pride in your country or your alma mater. All of these kinds of pride can be healthy...in moderation. But the kind of pride that God speaks against in his word is nothing like those "feel good" types of pride. Pride is one of those sins that we tend to just gloss over and not fret too much about. In our minds, it's not quite the same as murdering someone or committing adultery. But the thing is...it IS in the same group. A "sin is a sin is a sin" in the mind of God. All sins separate us from Christ and require repentance. In the following passage from Mark, Jesus is speaking about what is inside of you...and how it can defile you. He lists all of these horrible sounding sins...and then WHOA! He throws pride in there...along with envy, slander (gossip), and foolishness. I think that we tend to trivialize these other sins...and yet they are so completely destructive if we don't stop them in their tracks.

And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

Mark 7:20-22

Right now, I'd like to focus specifically on pride. I was recently given a wonderful resource from Revive our Hearts/Nancy Leigh DeMoss...it's a study on pride vs. brokenness (or humbleness) and it details the many differences between the two. It's been such a life changing study for me and I wanted to pass it on to you.

Here are just a few of the comparisons:

Proud people focus on the failures of others...broken people are overwhelmed with the sense of their OWN spiritual need.

Proud people have to prove that they are right...broken people are willing to yield the right to be right.

Proud people claim "rights" and have a demanding spirit...broken people yield their rights and have a meek spirit.

Proud people have a drive to be recognized and appreciated...broken people have a sense of their own unworthiness; thrilled that God would use them at all.

Proud people feel confident in how much they know...broken people are humbled by how very much they have to learn.

Questions to ask yourself...evidences of pride:

  • Do you look down on those who are less educated, less affluent, less refined, or less successful than yourself?
  • Do you think of yourself as "more spiritual" than your mate or others in your church?
  • Are you quick to find fault with others and to verbalize those thoughts to others? Do you have a sharp, critical tongue?
  • Are you driven to receive approval, praise, or acceptance from others?
  • Are you uncomfortable inviting people into your home because you don't think it's nice enough or you can't afford to do lavish entertaining?
  • Do you become defensive when you are criticized or corrected?

I have been so convicted by this study...it completely brings my focus back to Christ. Jesus Christ is the only reason I am not condemned by my failures. He has saved me and I owe everything to Him. With that in mind...how could I ever think that I have any "rights" in my life? How could I ever look down upon someone else...knowing that I am nothing without Christ?

Now...all of this may sound so "defeated" and not "empowered" in the sense of the word that our world uses it. If you watch TV or listen to any sort of media, you will hear that it's ALL about you and that YOU have control over everything in your life. You pretty much ARE GOD. This is the ultimate in pride.

But God desires for you to be confident and beautiful and amazing...but He wants you to be confident in HIM, beautifully made by HIM, and live an amazing life with HIM and for HIM.

In studying "brokenness", I have migrated into studying what the Bible says about love and mercy. When your focus is on loving others and showing mercies to others, it's much harder to be full of pride.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart. O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6

He has showed you, O Man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

And my very favorite...you have to read this 3-4 times to really get it into your heart:

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand it's own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record or when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. ... There are three things that will endure -- faith, hope, and love -- and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7,13

Wow. To live a life of love...that's what I want! To show mercy and to be broken in Christ. How I long to be those things! It is ONLY by the Holy Spirit's power in my life that I could even dream of grasping at them. I am so thankful that God uses circumstances in my life, the people I am surrounded with, and His word to gently teach me in these areas.

This is my prayer today...

LORD! I desire a broken spirit...a spirit of love. Clean out my critical spirit. I don't want it anymore. Let me look for love and peace in every situation. Make me overwhelmed at every moment with a sense of my own spiritual need...not anyone else's. Let me see all others as better than myself. Help me to deny my selfish desires and be motivated to serve others. I have nothing to offer except a life that flows through Jesus. I have so much to learn. I am not concerned with being "right". Help me to be humble and slow to correct others. Give me a teachable spirit...one that longs for your Word and your truth. I love you Jesus...and it's in your name I pray. Amen.

Kind and Wise

As I look back through my past prayer journals...I see a definite trend in things that I struggle with. One of those things is my mouth. It seems over and over throughout my life that my mouth has gotten me into trouble. Starting when I was a teenager :) Boy, was I sassy. And on into my 20's, my mouth kind of stayed with me. I don't think I thought I was ever hurting anyone directly with my words, but even the TONE of voice I may have used toward someone, or a bit of sarcasm falling on sensitive ears...they all have negative effects. It carries over into my relationship with my family as we discuss topics that we may not all agree on and I really want to get my point across. It carries over into my marriage...when I let my mouth speak to Matt before my mind/heart has caught up to it. It carries over into my relationship with Bella...when I can all too often get frustrated and use an impatient tone with her when I'm in a hurry to get something done. I could make excuses all day about why I am the way I am. I'm "passionate". I'm "outgoing". I have "strong opinions". But the truth is, Jesus doesn't care about the excuses. His standard for our speech is so much higher than an explanation of "why I did it". I've read that the "mark of a spiritually mature woman" is that she has tamed her tongue. Oh...LORD!! How I long to be spiritually mature. I want all of my words to be only WISE & KIND! I want my words to be GENTLE!

Words are powerful. They have the ability to tear families apart. But they also have the ability to mend broken hearts and relationships. They can completely rip away at someone's self-esteem. But they can also be used to encourage and support. Jesus had MUCH to say about the words that come from our mouths.

Proverbs 17: 27 He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.

James 3:2-12 For we all stumble in many ways. If someone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect individual, able to control the entire body as well. And if we put bits into the mouths of horses to get them to obey us, then we guide their entire bodies. Look at ships too: Though they are so large and driven by harsh winds, they are steered by a tiny rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination directs. So too the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze. And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the entire body and sets fire to the course of human existence – and is set on fire by hell. For every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is subdued and has been subdued by humankind. But no human being can subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord, and Father, and with it we curse people made in God’s image. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters. A spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening, does it? Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a vine produce figs? Neither can a salt water spring produce fresh water.

Proverbs 13:3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.

Proverbs 21:23 Whoever guards his mouth and tongue Keeps his soul from troubles.

James 1:26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless.

Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Just a quick glance through these verses is enough to make me fall to my knees! Our words CONTROL our lives, set the tone for our day, and give credibility to our faith. The last sentence of the last passage is so convicting...if my mouth is speaking from the abundance or "overflow" of my heart, what is truly in my heart? Have I let Jesus come completely in and wash away all of the negativity, anger, envy, impatience...?

"From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters. A spring does not pour out fresh water and bitter water from the same opening, does it?" How often have we been speaking harshly/"cursing" to someone in our immediate family and when a stranger or friend comes near, we start speaking "blessing"? When we switch back and forth like that, what does it say about our character? And about our relationship with God?

I know without a doubt that when I have neglected my spiritual life and my time in God's word...my mouth starts to get sassy. I start to speak with negative words and with harsh tones. The inward "words" I allow myself to think are affected as well. When I am in God's word consistently, HIS words fill my heart. HIS words come to mind in a hard situation. HIS words bring LIFE.

I want to start examining my speech with a fine-toothed comb...weeding out anything that is not pleasing to Him. I only want to say words that are wise and kind...and most of all, spoken with a gentle spirit. It's not human nature to be those kind of things all the time...so it's only by the power of the Holy Spirit that I will be able to accomplish it. Sometimes I physically have to "bite my tongue" to stop from saying the first thing that comes to my mouth. It's definitely an exercise in self-control....that's why it's called TAMING the tongue. A rule we try to live by at our house..."don't ever say the first thing that comes to mind. Or the second. The third thing is usually the best." And of course, you could just not say anything at all...and that's ok. It gives your heart time to catch up.

Speak truth today. Speak wisdom today. Speak kindness today. Speak gentleness today. You'll be amazed at the change in your family life/relationships and ALL of the situations you encounter.