Happy 2019-Take Good Care of Yourself

field and trees

Happy New Year, ya’all!

Have you set goals? Do you have a word for the year? Do you make “resolutions”? I’d truly like to hear what you do, if you’d care to share.

I’m still praying about my word for the year, but I do know that I need to focus a little more on self-care. I need to remember that I’m worth a little extra effort.

Yes, that does sound selfish. But let’s think about that for a minute.  I’m not talking about indulgence. Not talking about hour-long bubble baths, buying yourself anything that strikes your fancy. I’m not talking about saying everything that pops into your head, either. I’m talking about taking care of yourself in order to help yourself be a happier person and to help others with a full heart.

Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. If I am constantly down on myself, constantly critical of everything I do, no matter how loving and kind I might SOUND to others, there is going to be an undertone of judgement because that’s what’s going on inside me. It seems to me, somewhere in there, He is implying I need love myself, too.

When you fly, they tell you to place your own oxygen mask first and THEN help others around you. If I can’t breath, how can I help someone else?

If the glass is empty, it cannot fill other glasses. If I am depleted and drained, no matter how much I try or want to, I won’t have anything to give to others.

So very many scriptures tell us how much God loves us. The one almost everyone knows, John 3:16, says He loved the world so much that He gave His Son to be the substitute for everyone’s failures. Everyone, by the way, includes you and me. Would YOU let your child suffer and die because someone else messed up??

In other scriptures, we are told God loves us, He sings over us, He dances, He smiles because of us. He fights for us. He protects us. He heals us… YOU and ME! He created each of us and God doesn’t make junk! We are told that we are in Christ Jesus and God the Father sees you and me just like He sees Jesus- perfect, righteous, complete.

When we don’t agree with what God says about us, either He is a liar or we need to change our thinking. I need to change my thinking~

Taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually is important. We are called to serve others and that’s what we want to do. To change the world around and within me, I have serve from a full heart and soul and spirit. When we love and serve others, we too are filled up and it becomes part of our own self-care.

First take time with Father God. Then be aware of how He loves you today.

For each week of this year, I’m going to practice a different form of self-care.

This week is deep breathing.

Starting with a “deep breath” seems easy for me  (This is another form of self-care. I’m starting with something I’m already familiar with). I often do that anyway. However, there are times I realize I’m essentially holding my breath, so I want to become aware sooner.

When I’m excited, I’ll take a deep breath and focus that excitement, enjoy that excitement.

When I’m tired, I’ll take a deep breath and rest.

When I’m frustrated, angry, disappointed… I’ll take a deep breath and pause.

There is a large body of research and resource for more information regarding deep breathing. There are special techniques for different types of deep breathing. Check it out. Try different things. Whatever you do, though, do it! Even a sharp, quick deep breath is better than nothing. A deep breath can stop the locomotive of negative feelings before they get out of control.

Every change we make is made up of many small changes, small steps. It’s when the goal is “lose 50 pounds”, or “stop being impatient” that we fail. Instead of saying I’m going to “take better care of myself emotionally”, I’m going to break it down, try different ways to take better care of myself.

Each week, either Monday or Tuesday (taking care of myself by giving myself space), I’ll share one small technique to change the way I think or lessen the pressure I unnecessarily place on myself. I hope you find something helpful for yourself as I share my journey.

Will you join me?

Thank you for reading. I invite your feedback.

Please consider following me. There’s a “subscribe” button at the top of the right hand column. If it’s not there, please let me know!! Thanks!

God bless you!

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Pouring Grey/End Beginning

Shelter of His Wings detail

Pouring rain, Monday grey.

It should be the name of a paint color, obviously, a grey one.

Monday morning was not just grey. Monday morning was pouring rain- like despair, like unloading all the burdens the clouds have held for too long. Like Jesus telling me- yet again- “give Me what troubles you, pour out what’s bothering you. I have truly already taken the troubles.  It’s you who is holding onto them go.”

But this Monday morning, in spite of pouring grey, my heart was not feeling burdened. I’d listened to praise and worship music, joined the singing. I was a bit pensive. But not burdened. Not angry.

And I kind of enjoyed the rain, a good way to end the month. Washing away the dust.

End of month, beginning again. (Maybe the title of a Country Western song.) Hard to believe the speed these month fly with.

I started with the bah-humbug thinking:  “…another month flown past and nothing accomplished- again. I’m too old to let these months zip away without producing anything! I have too many ideas, too many dreams!”. But the Holy Spirit stopped me and reminded me that I put dinner on the table X times, bought groceries (was ABLE to buy groceries!), kept girls, helped them start another school year. I began helping a friend re-write the insert and I made progress (though very little) on my on-line course. No, I didn’t blog. Or even write a note to a friend. But I painted during worship several times and I created the feather picture (In the Shelter of His Wings). Emily helped with that. She made her own smaller version. I was able to catch-up with friends over lunch, several times. We celebrated the Fourth of July with the kids at their Annual 4th of July Bash, complete with amazing fireworks. We were able to welcome Anna home from her month-long mission trip. And we took them hot dogs and Oreos for lunch when Mom and Dad were away. (While the cat’s away…. *wink*). I’ve kept plants alive through summer heat and done my fair share of laundry. I think I might have even vacuumed a few times! AND- ta da! – It’s still July and I’m publishing today. First time since May! So, I have done some stuff this month, after all. It’s just not what I expected.

Even though it’s the end of the month and the moon is full (or maybe because the moon is full?), I’m making another beginning. A quote my sis and I love (“It’s never too late to start the day over!”) applies to a month, too, don’t you think? Even starting over at the end!

I wonder about much but I give up- let go and let God! I am absolutely sure that I cannot. On the other hand, I’m totally certain He is able. Have it all, Lord!

How was your day? Rainy? Sunny?

Are you carrying burdens you need to pour onto God? Or are you free and breezy today?

And hey! If you’re not ready to begin at the end, tomorrow is the beginning of another month, the perfect time to begin- even begin again!

(Photo: detail, In the Shelter of His Wings, 2018)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on anything! Don’t be bashful, please leave a comment!

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Thanks for reading!!

HOPE – yet again

Nest in flowering tree

Hope Yet Again

I planned to move on from Hope. I thought three blogs in a row on the same subject might get boring. But, like Nellie in South Pacific, I seem to be “stuck like a dope with a thing called “Hope”, and I can’t get it out of my heart- not… this… heart.”

I am definitely no “cockeyed optimist”, as Nellie was. At the same time, Hope doesn’t seem go away no matter the circumstances. Since Hope won’t leave, perhaps I should entertain her; give her tea and cookies.

Even though she seems elusive when you’re desperate for her, she’s right there at your side when you feeling like throwing in the towel or calling it quits or dissolving into a puddle of despair. There she is! And she’s not quiet either. She’s cheering you on- telling you to keep going!

… it’ll be better, she says.

…it’ll change, she says.

…it’s only been a week… 6 months… 9 years…, she says.

…the breakthrough is close, she says.

…don’t give up now, she says.

I was sitting at the kitchen table feeling glum (right, I know, that’s my first mistake) and feeling the usual will-this-ever-change-feeling and suddenly, I felt Hope standing near (on??) my right shoulder.

She said, “I’m still here. It really will be Okay. Don’t give up now.”

Really? I kind of wanted to smack her. (Not very nice of me, is it?) At the same time, I was glad she was there. That’s the thing about her, she’s THERE. She’s “hard to kill”*. Not that I desire her demise, of course.

So. Here I am stuck with Hope. Finding it tucked here and there. Finding it the subject of many article and blogs!

I had planned to just share scripture and related posts from lots of other writers. But the following will be enough- this time.

From Ann Voskamp on Facebook, March 11, 2018:

“Hope is defiant reliance on God keeping His Word… (because) God is trustworthy… and when you know God is trustworthy, you now today and tomorrow is worthy of Hope. … As long as you still are, all is not lost. Being is hope and hope is presence and this present moment is a gift pulsing with Hope.”

WOW! I love that! “a gift pulsing with HOPE!”. Thank you, Ann Voskamp!

From incourage and Holley Gerth, Instagram, March 12, 2018:

“Tell all the feelings

Say all the things

Just know that underneath all of that

There can still be HOPE.

…God isn’t finished with your story yet. Even if what you’re doing feels useless. God has a plan and it will come to pass. He knows the desires of our hearts even better than we do and He is still writing all our stories in wild and mysterious ways today.”

Oh! I do hope that God is still writing my story in “wild and mysterious ways”! Hey! Even knowing He’s just writing anything is encouraging! Thank you, incourage and Holley Gerth!!

“Find rest in God alone, my hope comes from Him; He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I shall not be shaken.” Psalm 62:5, 6. See that? When we rest, we find hope and are safe in Him and will not be moved.

Ann Voskamp says, “You have to let Hope always carry you- or fears will carry you away.”

So, Hope continues. There’s probably no end to the things we can say about Hope. Hope is from God, so it’s voluminous!!

Dare to Hope again… and again…and again….

Romans 15:13 says to overflow with Hope!

Romans 5:5 says Hope doesn’t disappoint.

Alexander Pope, way back in the late 1600’s, said, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” Like Emily Dickinson’s “thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune… and never stops at all.” Hope is.

Let Hope be the phoenix that rises from your ashes. Or the angel that rises from dead leaves and says, “Come along. There’s still Hope!”

angel sitting in dead leaves

Hope is the last thing released from Pandora’s box because HOPE truly overcomes all evils.

So, friends, “… stretching tenuous muscles… reaching outstretched hands to the wind to find my brave wings to soar again.” (Rebekah Ellis on Instagram). Let Hope carry you. She’ll help you fly through adversity. Invite her into your home, give her the best chair. Make her comfortable. You’re “stuck” with her anyway!! (Does this picture look like I’ve stretched my hand and am ready to fly? )

Outstretched hand

Thanks for reading and sticking with Hope and me as we journey together.

Please share how your friendship with Hope is progressing. Are you flying with her? Or still getting to know her? Has she moved into your home? Or is she just visiting for tea and cookies? Whatever stage our friendship is in, we can always strengthen it. I know I’m not soaring with her. Not yet. I am cleaning out a spot for her to move into the house, though. We’re getting along pretty well. Learning to trust one another.

Please consider subscribing if you haven’t already. And don’t be bashful about sharing with friends!! They may need another look at Hope as well.

 

Credits:

Cockeyed Optimist from South Pacific: https://youtu.be/p0DusO6ipLw The quoted phrase begins about 2:39 in the video. I hope you’ll watch it. What’s not to love about Mitzi Gaynor?! (I also hope this link works. It doesn’t seem to be live…)

Celtic Woman; lyrics from “When We Believe”

A Little More Hope

Flowery Hope

Hello, Friends!

Here it is- the First of March!

Spring has sprung here in NC, complete with bushes and trees rushing into full bloom even with the possibility of more cold weather. I know it’s silly but this warm weather at the end of February/beginning of March is messing with me… I look outside and see springtime; the weather feels like spring and yet my calendar is telling me it’s still winter! Ugh! I think these trees have an abundance of Hope… hoping against all hope that the weather has truly changed for the warmer.

Photo blooming crabapple

As you recall, I ended the first HOPE installment with a question to myself… “Where is all this Hope I’m writing about? Am I really the one who wrote all that stuff?” It sounds so, ya know, HOPEFUL! I didn’t realize I already knew so much about Hope. After all, the reason this year’s word is HOPE is because I have a tenuous relationship with her.

I want to become intimate with HOPE. I certainly need Hope this third month of the year because the newness of the year (or month or day, etc.) changes nothing in and of itself. I am the one who has to change my thinking and tell my heart to “take heart, be Hope-filled”. I am the only one who can drain the sludge of discouragement or fear or negativity. I must work at it. The new month is a nice demarcation but the month isn’t going to be any different unless I do something different.

Sadly, Hope doesn’t come easily or naturally for me. (Will it ever, I wonder? Will I ever be a naturally, easily Hopeful person? I suspect -with my negative tendencies- that the answer is NO.) It’s hard to have to work so hard to be Hopeful. But there’s no other choice, I guess. Not really. Hope won’t give up and go away, it’s always there, somewhere or another, hiding from my tantrums or slinking into my little toe. But she won’t quite leave entirely. Thanks be to God. Since she won’t leave, I really should become friends with her.

I keep having to set and re-set my mind and take command of my heart. Really, my heart wants to Hope. It’s my heart that wants me living in peaceful-Hope (as opposed to fight-for-it-Hope). Again, I ask: can the fight-for-it-Hope become peaceful-Hope? I sure Hope so!

Sometimes Hope is easy… you’re full of faith, things are looking good and you FEEL Hopeful, Hope-filled. Hang onto that feeling, marinade in it, savor it, experience it, notice how great if feels! Enjoy feeling that your Hope is tough-as-nails and can withstand anything that comes your way; notice having “confident expectation”.

Often, “anything” does come your way and Hope becomes harder… things are not just gloomy but seem nearly impossible. If God Himself doesn’t come help you, you’re sunk, done for, dead. You have to fight hard to remember all those quotes and scriptures about Hope. You feel like you’re carrying heavy weights. Having that easy-Hope stored up gives us something to grab hold of in tough times.

I am asking God continue to open my eyes to see His Hope. I’m trusting Him to help me be less negative and re-wire my brain for the positive. I’m hoping to engage in Hope that is the evidence of what will be but isn’t yet. I’m still Hopefully Waiting , my winter-season theme, resting in anticipation of what’s coming next.

Winter is transitioning into spring with a whip-lash of sunny and warm one day, chilly with rain the next.  And my Hopeful Waiting seems to be transitioning into something new.

My Hope is built on Jesus’s faithfulness!! What is my problem, anyway? Jesus did it all! He takes care of it all, He loves me even when I’m awful. Why would I not Hope in Him? I can truly rest in Him and all He has done for me! Even though I’m still somewhat back and forth, like the weather, my Hope is becoming stronger. We’re getting to be friends.

 

Thank you for reading this today.

I’d love for you to share what your relationship with Hope is like. Is she your best friend? Is she just an acquaintance? I Hope both you and I will get to know Hope better, and that our relationship becomes intimate. Please, leave your comments below.

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God bless you as winter turns to spring and you become better acquainted with Hope!