As a busy physician, author, and mom, I understand that life’s demands can leave you feeling mentally overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and physically tired. Daily I help over-stressed women deal with their work-rest imbalance and find actionable answers to the thriving lifestyle they desire.
Today’s guest post is from Landen Melton, the founder of Devotable. He shares 4 practical tips for starting your day off right, encouraging us to have a Godly attitude throughout the entire day by choosing to make just a few simple alterations to our morning routines.
My name is Landen. I’m the founder of Devotable, a daily devotion project where we bring together over 100 authors, writers, and bloggers to create Christian devotional content to help you connect with God daily.
I used to buy into the reasoning that whenever you have time for Bible study, worship, and prayer is when you should do it. You don’t have to get it done first thing in the morning. We’re all busy people, so just do it when you can.
I lived most of my 20’s like this and suffered for it. My relationship with God suffered, my connection with others suffered, as did my knowledge and faith in the Lord.
You see, there is something special about starting the day off right with a Godly attitude that only worship, Bible study, and prayer can achieve. Starting off with that powerful trio sets the mood and tone for the rest of the day.
I’d like to give you 4 practical tips for starting your day off right and how you can have a Godly attitude throughout your entire day with just a few simple alterations to your morning routine.
For years I overlooked the importance of worship in my daily devotion and study time. The reason that worship is usually done at the beginning of a church service is to place your attitude and heart toward God. It’s an emotional time that is meant to get your spirit and mind in the right direction and focused on God.
I’d heard this before but never realized the power of worship in my personal study and devotion. Now, before each Bible study and devotion reading in the morning, I listen to praise and worship music. This sets the tone of my study and devotion time.
If you don’t already, I encourage you to try and start your morning off with a song. Pick your favorite artist or songs. Put them into a playlist, wake yourself with them or play them in the morning while you’re getting ready. You will be amazed at the power of praise to start your day off right.
Study God’s Word
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
God’s Word is so powerful, it stands on its own. There isn’t anything that needs to be said more or added to God’s Word. Read it! Let it penetrate your mind and spirit. Let it cut and remove pieces of your life, attitude, habits, commitments, and time that need to be altered.
You don’t need to read two chapters each morning for this to happen. You don’t even need to read two verses. Don’t get caught up in the trap of guilt because you can’t read a full chapter or two. Read a single verse, apply it, or read a whole chapter. The point being, get a dose of God’s Word each morning and allow it to penetrate your mind and thoughts.
Apply it to Your Life
This brings us into our next point for cultivating a Godly attitude in the morning. Apply what you just read!
Many people read God’s Word and fail to apply it. It’s like when you read a whole page of a book and have no idea what you just read because your mind and thoughts were elsewhere. Don’t fall into that trap.
Read God’s Word, meditate on it and its context. Figure out how the verse, verses, or chapter applies to modern society (because it does) and act on it.
Scripture often challenges us to act. So realize that faith without action is futile. Act on God’s Word and apply it to your life daily.
Prayer is the lifeblood that holds everything together. Without it, there wouldn’t be life. A body can have all its parts, but without blood, it ceases to function. Prayer is like that in our spiritual life.
We can have all the parts and pieces together. We can do all the things mentioned above and more, but if we don’t have communication with the Father, it’s all for nothing.
End your morning with a prayer to Him. If you don’t know how to pray or have problems praying, realize that the Holy Spirit inside you knows how to interpret your prayers to the Father. We don’t have to have all the words, we just have to have the right attitude and intent in prayer.
Putting It All Together
As I created Devotable, I wanted to bring some of these things together. I wanted to create something that was always based in God’s Word, was applicable to everyday life, and would end with a prayer. So with Devotable, I want to create devotions with that in mind and I believe our authors do a great job of expounding on Scripture, telling and applying their stories to our lives, and ending with an application or prayer for our morning.
These spiritual disciplines will not, in and of themselves, make me a better Christian or person. But by doing them, I start to cultivate habits that create a new mindset and start the morning off with a Godly attitude, ready to face the world as it hurls its darts at me.
I challenge you to try them. If you can set aside even 15 minutes in the morning to do these things, whether you develop a routine of your own or use a Devotable daily devotion to accomplish that, I know you’ll be blessed for it. Your walk, faith, and daily attitude will begin to reflect the God you serve and His light will shine in you each and every day.
Landen Melton is a web developer by trade and online entrepreneur by passion. He is the owner and creator of Devotable, an online Christian daily devotion project. Together with over 100 talented writers, they create inspiring devotions that help encourage believers and share the good news of Jesus Christ daily.
As we anticipate and prepare our hearts for both Good Friday and Easter, I’m encouraged by these words from Shauna Letellier.
Do doubt and hope go together? When we’re left asking “asking can this be?” will we still trust our Father and cling to His promises? I especially love this thought from Shauna in her guest post below:
“Hope based on the promises of God will never disappoint. We may stand sobbing, confused and bewildered by what we cannot understand, but God is not confined to what we can conceive.”
For those who’ve grown up in church, the Easter story is a familiar one. So familiar are the words hope and doubt, death and resurrection, that the true meaning of them lose their splendor. Sometimes their familiarity in our Easter vocabulary even breeds a heart-level boredom.
So, when I was cruising through the Easter story a few years ago, I was shocked to find a verse I’d never noticed. Surely I’d read it before. At the very least I’d heard it. But I had certainly never stopped to consider it and marvel. And yet there it was, standing like an open wound on the pages of my Bible.
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother.” (John 19:25)
Though I knew how the story went, it seemed an unnecessary cruelty.
If anyone had correctly placed her hope in God, Mary had. When the angel Gabriel visited her three decades earlier, her response was one of willing obedience. Her honest questions reflected the heart of a young lady eager to serve God, “How can this be?”
Gabriel’s answer? “Nothing is impossible with God.”
Less than one year later, Mary stood in the Temple watching an old man bless God and prophecy to her that someday, though she was obedient to God and blessed by Him, a sword would pierce the soul of the Messiah’s mother. (See Luke 2:35)
I wonder if she reflected over the years on that shadow of prophecy that hovered on the joyful occasion of Jesus’ arrival. Was her soul pricked when she “lost” Him in the Temple when He was 12? When His family thought He was “out of his mind” and when the religious leaders called Him a devil, Mary must have experienced the ache and anger of a mother whose child had been insulted.
But as she witnessed the crucifixion of her Son, the sword Simeon had prophesied had finally pierced. She knew her trustworthy God had fulfilled His word to her and to Israel in unexpected ways over the years. But the crucifixion of a Messiah who was promised to reign forever was unexplainable.
Imagine the wrestling of hope and certainty with doubt and fear that must have plagued Mary. What terrible questions did she ask about her role as His mother?
As I’ve pondered this scene on a hill that bore resemblance to a skull, I wonder if her question to Gabriel lingered. How can this be?
Hope based on the promises of God will never disappoint. We may stand sobbing, confused and bewildered by what we cannot understand, but God is not confined to what we can conceive.
The last time Mary is mentioned in the Bible, we find her in a large upstairs room among 120 other believers—eye witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus! When a sound like violent wind and something akin to tongues of fire rested upon those 120 believers, Mary must have sensed a holy familiarity. At some unknown moment in a little town called Nazareth, the Holy Spirit had come upon her to set His redemptive work in motion. Thirty years later, God, who formed a baby in the virgin’s womb, withdrew the foretold sword of suffering from her soul and replaced it with His Holy Spirit. Her Son and her Savior continually present, reigning in her forever—the guarantee of hope fulfilled.
And I wonder if that angelic answer from long ago echoed in Mary’s mind, “Nothing is impossible for God.” (See Luke 1:37)
Even with the gift of God’s written word, the presence of His Spirit in our lives, and the testimony of believers before us, sometimes we still tend to wobble on the edge of hopelessness, as if a few things are impossible, even for God.
But just because He hasn’t yet, doesn’t mean He can’t. We must cling to His word. It remains true even if our circumstances say otherwise. When the outcome is unimaginable, when we ask ourselves and God, “How can this be?” we can trust our God who gives more than we can imagine but rarely what we expect. And He does not disappoint
Shauna Letellier is the author of Remarkable Hope: When Jesus Revived Hope in Disappointed People (where Mary’s story is imagined and retold in Chapter 7). Drawing upon her degree in Biblical Studies, she weaves strands of history, theology, and fictional detail into a fresh retelling of familiar Bible stories on her blog and in her books. With her husband Kurt, she has the wild and hilarious privilege of raising three boys along the banks of the Missouri River where they fish, swim, and rush off to ball games.
If you are a caregiver, this guest post from Sarah Forgrave will be especially encouraging to you. Although the self-care tips are practical and helpful for everyone, I believe they’ll truly impact your daily life if you take them to heart. The role of caregiver is important, and I want you to know that it matters. What you do matters! But don’t forget to take care of yourself, too.
If there’s one season of life that demands everything we have while also draining everything we have, it’s caregiving.
Caring for someone with physical needs often involves being available 24/7. Your schedule is turned upside down. Your body tries to keep up with all that’s required on far too little sleep. Your emotions wear thin while you’re expected to be the strong one. And your spirit becomes parched as time with God slips lower on the list of urgent must-dos.
Having been through caregiving seasons myself, I know it’s far from easy to make self-care a priority. Yet it’s more important than ever to take care of myself when someone else needs me to be strong.
So how do we as caregivers prioritize self-care and make sure we aren’t giving from an empty tank? As a former wellness and nutrition coach, this is a question near and dear to my heart.
Here are some self-care tips I’ve found helpful in my own seasons of caregiving that you can incorporate today…
1. Nurture your spirit above all else.
I recently interviewed a group of caregivers, and the resounding message from each of them was that nurturing your spirit isn’t a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have.
Some of them said they sacrifice their personal to-do list to prioritize Bible study and prayer time. Others said they’ve gotten creative in connecting with God during the in-between moments of caregiving—journaling while a parent sleeps or praying “thought prayers” throughout the day rather than a big chunk of devoted prayer time.
No matter the approach, the consensus was this: Time with God is crucial for surviving the demands of caregiving.
2. Rest whenever you can.
We all know that getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night is important for our health. But when you’re caregiving, it’s simply not possible to get uninterrupted sleep sometimes. A midnight phone call from an elderly parent or the cries of a sick child pull you from the rest you so desperately need.
While uninterrupted sleep may not be possible, I’ve found it helpful to go back to the advice I received as a new mom: whenever your baby lets you rest, let yourself rest. It may mean a 30-minute nap in the afternoon or going to bed an hour earlier at night, knowing that a midnight wake-up is inevitable. Whatever you need to do, rest is priority #2 after nurturing your soul.
3. Choose life-giving foods.
On the other end of the spectrum of rest is movement. Whether you had an exercise routine prior to caregiving or not, it’s more important than ever to move somehow, someway, every day.
When my son was in the ICU following an emergency surgery, I found it helpful to walk the halls of the hospital. I even found a flight of stairs on a particularly stressful day and ran up and down, up and down, until I worked out the anxiety that had built up in my body. If you can, get outside and enjoy the fresh air while you walk. Especially if you’re in a hospital environment, the sights and smells can overload your senses. Fresh air and movement will do wonders.
Maybe instead of active movement, you could use a good stretch. Taking a few minutes to unwind in this way will relieve so much tension in your muscles. (I share an easy stretching routine you can try, along with ideas for incorporating Scripture meditation at this link.)
4. Move whenever you can.
When life gets busy and stressful, healthy eating is the easiest thing to let slip. But your body needs the nutrients more than ever to keep you energized and strong.
When I was in the hospital with my son, I found it helpful to have healthy snacks in my purse at all times. I visited the gift shop and loaded up on fresh bananas, cinnamon apple chips, and nuts. Having them with me made it much easier to avoid the temptation of walking to the vending machine for “empty-calorie comfort.”
There’s definitely room for some comfort foods if you need them, but try to fill yourself mostly with life-giving foods that will keep you strong for the long haul.
This is the easiest of all, because it can be done anywhere, anytime. Intentional breathing, even for less than a minute, can do wonders for lowering your tension and clearing your mind.
I’ve found it helpful to follow a simple 5-5-5 pattern for deep breathing. Close your eyes, inhale slowly for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, and exhale slowly for 5 seconds. Repeat however many times you need. To get the most benefit from the exercise, make sure you’re inhaling deep down into your belly. You want your lower abdomen to expand rather than your chest and shoulders lifting.
God gave oxygen to us as a free gift, and this simple practice will re-energize and re-focus you for the caregiving tasks ahead.
No matter where you are in your caregiving journey, choose one thing you can do today for yourself. Your care recipient is relying on you to be present and calm, and while that may feel like an impossible task some days, it is possible with God’s strength carrying you.
Rest and trust in Him. I’m cheering you on!
Sarah Forgrave is an author and speaker who loves encouraging others toward a deeper walk of faith. As someone who has spent considerable time in doctors’ offices, both as a patient and caregiver, Sarah knows the challenges and triumphs a health journey can bring. Her greatest passion is connecting with God in the messes and hardships of life.
She is the author of Prayers of Hope for Caregivers and Prayers for Hope and Healing, a prayer devotional for those facing health challenges. In addition to blogging about prayer, faith, and friendship on her website, she is a monthly contributor to TheChristianMommy.com and has contributed to Guideposts’ A Cup of Christmas Cheer and many other websites and anthologies. Outside of writing and speaking, Sarah is the busy mom of two preteen children and the wife of an entrepreneurial husband. When she has a moment to herself, she loves to shop the aisles at Trader Joe’s or curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. Visit Sarah at >www.sarahforgrave.com.
About Prayers of Hope for Caregivers
Caring for someone with health needs can be emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining. Sarah Forgrave has spent considerable time, both as someone struggling with serious medical issues and as the family member of a chronically ill patient, and she understands the many challenges you face in your caregiving role.
Sarah wants to share what she discovered with you—peace through prayer, solace in Scripture, and unending hope from a Heavenly Father who never stops loving you.
Each heartfelt prayer and devotion is intended to help you navigate the complex set of emotions that come with caregiving. Read it front to back or go directly to the devotion addressing how you feel at any given moment…when you need it most.
Take comfort in the truth that God knows your every need as a caregiver and is always there for you amid your toughest trials.
Finding rest this month has been challenging. My time has been spread between speaking engagements, my son’s soccer games, media events, family responsibilities, and time at my medical office. When life gets busy, rest becomes even more important.
Each day drains me a little more than the prior until I finally get to the end of my strength. This is no way to live and it does not honor God. It does not show any evidence of trusting Him. Instead, it testifies of my lack of trust in His ability to uphold the things I lay down.
I need rest as much as I need the air I breath. Rest pours back into me everything I daily pour out to others. Finding a place to rest is the at the core of abiding.
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. ~ John 5:15
Why Rest Matters
“Rest reveals things about ourselves, and that process can be messy. You may find something you didn’t expect. You may find fears you never knew you had but also the energy to confront those fears. Rest frees you to open yourself to a life that scares you. This is the secret to a life well-lived. In resting, you find the freedom to live the life you desire. In resting, you receive the strength to do, be, and overcome everything you currently feel powerless to confront. In resting, you open the door to more power than you’ve ever known.
Can I just be blunt?
Many of us run from rest because it seems like giving up. Rest looks a lot
like waiting and resting feels like a lack of progress forward.
That’s the lie this life wants you to believe. It’s only a lie. Lies are just twisted truths awaiting a
revelation. A well-rested life requires a delicate balance between pruning and
growth. Some things must be cut away to make room for what’s to come. Rest is
not always pleasant, but it ensures that the activities, the relationships, and
the situations that deplete you will not continue to be depleting.
The journey is not always comfortable. It doesn’t always feel right in the moment. I don’t want you to expect to see the heavens open, and angels descend every time you set aside time to participate in your rest activities. Yes, there will be some miraculous moment where all things come together, and you feel an instant tangible change. But there will also be times when your level of depletion will require you to diligently seek the rest you need until your change comes.”
I’d love to learn more about how you find rest! Enter to win a restful gift pack comprised of a copy of Sacred Rest and some of the things that help me rest well (aromatherapy, candles, gourmet herbal tea, eye mask) and an Amazon gift card for you to find a few of your own favorites. Enter using the link below AND visit some of the other Christian blogs participating in this blog hop.
The clothes we wear are the first layer of self-expression. While it is true that we should never judge a book by its cover, looking at someone’s outfit can give hints on the person who wears it. You can immediately tell things like if they are creative, sporty, or reserved.
As it turns out, the outfits you choose to wear also have an impact on your performance, too. A study cited by Inc. Magazine highlights the influence of your clothing on making important decisions. According to the research, people who dress more professionally tend to have a wider perspective, which can determine the choices they make. Conversely, you can also use your clothes to sway people’s perception of you. For instance, if you’re a leader trying to appear more relatable to your subordinates, you don’t want to be dressed to the nines. Choose clothes that don’t make you seem intimidating.
There are many ways you can use clothing to your advantage but it can be tough for people who don’t fit a certain ideal. For instance, a plus size woman who has all the credentials might end up not performing well in a job interview due to a lack of confidence. Here are a few ways to prevent that.
Dress for your body type. This is one of the secrets to finding clothes that always look good on you. The main thing is to not get too hung up on sizes, so instead focus on the fit. What might look good on someone who is a few sizes bigger might not be flattering on you. For instance, because apple-shaped women have a bigger top half, Style Craze suggests going for clothes that elongate your torso, such as deep necklines. On the other hand, loose tops paired with tight-fitting bottoms look good on pear-shaped women. Pay attention to fit as well as color, patterns, and texture and ignore the numbers.
Embrace your features. It’s easy to pinpoint your flaws but harder to appreciate your own features. Think of the body parts or qualities that you do like and dress in a way that showcases them to slowly build your confidence. If you like your broad shoulders for instance, wear light-colored tops and thinner straps to accentuate them. Eventually, you can be more comfortable wearing dresses and body-hugging pieces. Woman Within shows how plus size women can rock midi dresses, which come in different styles and designs, including the cutout shoulder, slit-front and ruffle sleeve. These can highlight body parts like your legs or collar bone. In other words, ensure that it has the proper cut and style that complements your body.
Try not to compare yourself to others. We’re all guilty of comparing ourselves to what we see in the media but that can be very deceiving. Researcher Martin Graff explained that social media in particular is curated to portray people in a ‘positive light’. Not everyone looks like they stepped out of a fashion catalog all the time. One way to become more comfortable in what you wear personally is to cultivate your signature style. You can turn to other people for inspiration, but not as a mold to base your entire wardrobe on. Have a few key pieces that you feel confident in wearing and adapt it to fit different occasions
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t let others dictate what you wear. Beauty and confidence emanate from within yourself, and clothes are just a way to express them.
AUTHOR BIO: Jenna Simon is a personal stylist and body-positive activist. Through her articles, she aims to help many young women boost their confidence by finding their own style.
Do you struggle with believing lies? Do you have a hard time loving yourself – as you are, right now? If so, I’m confident this guest post from Bess Blanco will be an encouragement to you today. Her honest words are laced with hope and healing, and I’m happy to share them with you here.
In my years of coaching hundreds of beautiful souls through portions of their weight-loss or healthy-living journeys, I’ve seen the struggle of low self-esteem and a lack of self-love in a whole new light.
It has become apparent to me that the enemy seeks to “kill, steal, and destroy” us through his number one weapon: a lie! It’s the lie that we believe about ourselves in our own minds: that our identity or worth is in any way attached to our outward appearance or our body’s abilities!
How is it that my internal worth meter swings wildly between feelings of securely belonging to my Heavenly Father and feeling accepted by Him – to inner disgust for the outer shell of this body I carry and its shortcomings?
This back-and-forth in self-worth is not always about weight and appearance. Many times, the “trigger” is from my body’s inability to perform at the level of physicality it used to.
I was strong before I got this sick. So strong. I was ABLE to go and do and be at a level I can’t even TOUCH now.
This has broken me down in many ways, learning and resigning myself to this “new normal” that I don’t like and didn’t ask for.
I know I’m not alone in this, as many precious people I serve have shared through their own story. Many people are dealing with a profound loss of ability in this new age of increasingly-common chronic illnesses and unwanted weight creeping up that are robbing us of our strength, stamina and clear thinking. And many times, our self-worth is being stolen right along with our physical health.
As sickness has increased in my life, weight gain has too. Hormonal problems (thyroid in my case) over the years has only helped the weight pile on. I’m a tiny girl to begin with, barely 5 foot 2, so even the additional 30 pounds is embarrassingly obvious. Disordered eating began to develop (even knowing what I know as a food coach!) as I scrambled to deal with the “side effects” of chronic illness and an ongoing genetic spine issue that resulted in tremendous daily pain. It’s a LOT!
Turns out, I’m not alone in this part of the journey either. So many beautiful people I’ve been honored to partner with in coaching tell similar stories…and my heart breaks.
Some of the people I have spoken with have never experienced being thin or fit, so they had a difficult time picturing themselves that way. I believe it’s because they had never seen a physical vision of what “could be.” They had lived in an overweight body their entire lives. Maybe it also had to do with the absence of belief in them that they could one day look and feel completely different than their “normal.”
Others had found themselves putting weight on little by little over the years, slowly but surely morphing into a “whole other person living in my body in addition to me” as one woman told me. Hormone changes, physical limitations, chronic disease, childbearing, disordered eating…so many reasons, so many opportunities for the weight to creep up and the self-esteem to sink.
An interesting phenomenon in my observations over the years of those who struggle with self-esteem: the fact that a person 20 pounds overweight can be in as dark or even darker place with how they see themselves in the mirror versus someone who is 100 pounds overweight. There seems to be no prerequisite for the enemy to whisper dark lies of appearance-based identity in a precious heart’s ear…only that they be human and God’s child! That alone seems to qualify us as a target for the lie of shame.
It certainly doesn’t help that there’s a constant flow of influence from social media, comparison, social standards and verbal comments on what we “should look like” or be able to do. Not to mention the “looks” many speak of experiencing from society…the looks that can’t be defined, but they nudge that inner critic that waits to jump to action.
So the motivators for the lie of shame are both external and internal…and so many are suffering in silence with this deep issue of self-worth.
The problem is, when shame and guilt are the motivators for solving the problem, the fix becomes about appeasing the old slave master of our mind. And the crazy part is, the entire time, all of this is based on a bald-faced lie of the enemy of our souls! That our worth hinges at all on outward appearance or ability? That we somehow can earn God’s acceptance or the approval of others?
So what can we do to combat the lie? Is there a way out of the wormhole of discouragement and false identity of low self-esteem?
Yes, lovely you, there most certainly is.
I will tell you, it is not a 1-2-3 step process. There is no magic strategy to take someone from where they are in their self-love journey to a new mind overnight. No, it’s a long-term process, a deeply personal process. It’s adopting a new commitment to ride out the ups and downs in this area of growth.
Here’s what it takes:
#1 Stubbornly hanging on to the commitment of finding the truth about our identity.
Hang on to your commitment to truth as strongly as you ever did to accepting the lies that the enemy would tell you about your outward appearance, your self-worth, your abilities. You’ll have to be on-purpose, and strengthen yourself through loving and gracious people, affirmative words, Biblical promises and songs that affirm your worth.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8
#2 To climb out of this seemingly endless mind battle, we have to recognize our need for a new identity.
Our identifier can no longer be something we DO or DON’T DO to “earn” our own self-acceptance or approval from God or others. Our mentality has to be renewed to believe that what God says about us is TRUE. And He says plenty in His Word. We have to find it, fill our mind with it, memorize it, and say it out loud. Putting some of these relevant Scriptures on 3×5 cards all over our mirrors, fridge, car, computer – wherever we’ll see them most – is a powerful method of mind renewal!
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking. Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.” – Psalm 139:14-16 (Message)
#3 Lastly, your motivator has to change.
Instead of your motivation for change being about feeling self-disgust due to listening to the “voice of the lie” and appeasing it with desperate measures like crash dieting, extreme momentary exercising, and even quick fixes (like magic solutions, pills, anything they claim “melts the weight off”) – you’ll have to renew your mind around this.
Battling the behavior can NO LONGER be a solution, no matter how attractive the “quick-results” might sound. You must begin to make choices that heal from the inside out. These are choices that will affect you in the LONG-TERM, and they must be made ONE SMALL STEP, one day, one choice – at a time!
Only then can your incredible body begin doing what it was created to do! Heal. Grow in strength. Stabilize. Metabolize.
Only then will your body begin to release the unnecessary weight: naturally, easily, organically. Possibly even permanently.
And as you heal, you’ll be able to fully embrace the truth of who you are (inside and out!) as God’s beautiful creation.
Bess Blanco, Health Coach and Founder of FRESH Start for Health, lives her purpose daily as she coaches, writes, speaks, and shares the message of hope and healing all over the US. Happily married to her best friend, Juan, they live with their four kiddos and two fur babies together in the sunny southwest desert of Arizona.
When is the last time you chose to rest, to be quiet and trust in God as He restores you? Rest is a gift, and I’m grateful for people like Cheri Fletcher who have read Sacred Rest and then taken the time to encourage me. She shares below about her journey to accepting the gift of rest. This line particularly stands out to me:
“Either He is exalted, or I am exhausted.” What a wonderful truth to embrace going into the Christmas season.
I don’t have time for that.
This was my first thought when my doctor told me I had Epstein-Barr Virus.
How could I have mono?
I did not have the classic symptoms, except for extreme fatigue.
My second thought: So, how quick is the cure?
Turns out, there is no cure, only treatment. Slow down, eliminate all peripheral obligations, and balance your rest.
Sounds lovely right? No. Not for this Martha.
For me, stewardship has always included a lot of peripheral obligations, like serving on committees, planning events and hosting people in my home.
Clearly, my expression of stewardship needed to change in this new season. For me to continue serving, I needed to restore.
Too Many Open Tabs?
My doctor explained that all my peripheral obligations were like open tabs in my brain. Think of it this way: “Slow computer? Open tabs might be to blame. The more tabs that you have open the more of your gadget’s RAM is being used. This can seriously slow down your computer.”
I had so many mental tabs open, I was running on low resources. All my activities were rewarding, fun, and fulfilling, but they took energy and I was not replacing that energy through rest.
This kept me in a constant state of anxiety. Now, not all anxiety is bad. You can feel eager anxiety when you are excited and anticipating something fun, like an upcoming trip to Disneyland or your birthday party. Anxiety is also your internal alarm, giving you a sense of danger, that something’s not right, like when it’s thirty minutes past curfew and your child still isn’t home.
While we are on this earth, we’re going to experience anxiety. But I’m discovering tools to help me handle both my good and my bad anxiety.
Learning to Let Go
My doctor told me that I needed to take things off my plate (which, incidentally, had grown to a platter). Choosing what to eliminate was hard. Telling people I needed to rest felt like a lame excuse to get out of obligations. Part of the stretching and growing process was the surrender, admitting to myself that I could no longer keep the pace I was used to.
When my doctor told me to balance my energy output with rest, I really had no idea what he meant. At first, I thought all I needed to do was take daily naps, but my doctor explained that I needed to look at the cognitive energy I put into constantly running through my mental to-do list. As I was working on a physical task, my brain was working on the next project I needed to complete
It was right in the middle of this diagnosis that I saw a review of Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s book, Sacred Rest, on Instagram. I was then blessed to watch her interview for Tuesday Teaching in the Hope*Writers community. This book and its message are just what the doctor ordered—pun intended.
Dr. Dalton-Smith’s information on the different kinds of rest is crucial to my now recovering and restoring soul. Combining scientific research with personal stories, spiritual insight, and practical next steps, Sacred Rest gives those of us who are weary permission to embrace no, set boundaries, and seek sanctuary without any guilt, shame, or fear.
Of special importance are “low yield activities.” I needed to limit or eliminate all activities that “failed to yield consistent positive gains” (page 52). My peripheral activities fell under this category. They drained my mental space and my restorative thoughts. For the one board I’ve stayed on, I scheduled a specific day and time that I give only to this project. I do not look at it, respond to emails, or work on it any other time. This allows my brain to block it off, eliminating the anxiety of unfinished work.
An Invitation to Rest
The Personal Rest Deficit Assessment Tool in this book revealed that I am highly deficient in Physical and Mental Rest and I believe that resulted in my weakened immune system.
God created us to rest. When He rested from creation it was not because He was tired. It was to stop, enjoy, and restore. It was a gift. In her blog post, “Rest: A Gift or Punishment,” blogger Niki Hardy says, “You are worthy of rest, not because you’ve earned it but because He did and we find our rest in Him.”
What does my rest in Him look like? God has been reminding me to BE STILL and KNOW in various ways, from music lyrics to Instagram memes to books like Sacred Rest.
If you’re asking, God, why am I so drained? Perhaps His answer for you is the same as the one He gave me: “You wouldn’t stop and let Me do the work.”
Or if you’re wondering, God why am having anxiety? He may be saying, “You don’t fully grasp that I’ve got this. You get worked up with fear of the unknown. Just know I am with you.”
“Be still and know.” This is God’s answer for my overwhelmed, immune deficient, anxiety-ridden self … and for you, too.
“You would rather struggle than rest. You would rather work under a sense of obligation than learn how to surrender to peace; You are afraid of rest.” – Dr. Dalton-Smith (Chapter 11 of Sacred Rest)
Be still physically? Yes.
Be still mentally? Yes.
Be still emotionally? Yes.
Be still spiritually? Yes.
Be still and find rest in “knowing that I am God.”
In Isaiah 30:15, God tells us: “You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence.”
If you are feeling out of control, full of anxiety, and overwhelmed with the craziness of this earth, I hope you will accept God’s gift of rest. Find comfort in being held. Psalm 18:16 gives me peace as I picture the scene in my life. “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.”
Either He is exalted, or I am exhausted.
Now in this new season of life, as I accept the gift of rest and allow God to do the work through me, my body is restored, my faith is strengthened, and my heart finds comfort in knowing He is God.
About Cheri Fletcher: Youth and women’s ministry is the purpose I believe God has placed in my heart and the work He is equipping me to do. I mentor and disciple high school students at our church’s academy to be leaders in His work. I also minister to women that God places in my path and have spoken at a couple of women’s ministry events. Ephesians 2:10 is the base of my ministry. We are God’s masterpiece, intentionally created with a purpose and a plan. How we frame His handiwork matters. I live in the greater Seattle area with my Husband Todd. We have three grown children who are out chasing their dreams. I love to sing and running is the way I clear and renew my mind. Check out Cheri’s blog at CheriFletcher.com and connect with her on Facebook.
“I don’t want my shallow breathing to lead to shallow living, so I pause and ponder what it is that God is speaking to this try-hard heart.”
Katie offers these words below, and I whole-heartedly agree. Her guest post is for each woman who needs a reminder to take a deep breath, slow down, and choose praise.
Sometimes I forget to take a breath. It hits me all of [a] sudden that I haven’t taken a deep breath for hours, that my shoulders are tucked up beneath my ears, as if they are supporting them, and I’m breathing but in short, rapid, shallow, hurried breaths. Slow down, I say to myself. Breathe. -Kris Camealy
I don’t breathe deeply enough. I often race through life, taking shallow breaths. But when I am stressed to the max, or in labor, I finally take deep cleansing breaths as I try to cope with the difficult situation at hand.
Labor with my sunshine-headed son was intense from the start. Tears filled my eyes from the unrelenting pain, with no relief in sight. I tried to stay calm but hours and hours without eating and an extremely tense back didn’t lend itself well to this endeavor.
Finally the time came to push but the delivery nurse told me I needed to pant instead.
I was in excruciating pain and panting seemed completely counter-intuitive and counter-productive. I didn’t want to damage my body by pushing prematurely. I didn’t know if I was in danger or if the doctor was just delayed in her arrival.
So I tried to obey, kind of.
But pushing is my preference.
Often I push my way through life—straining to make things happen, according to what I think is best. I push down doors of opportunity. I push myself and others to do more and be more. I push to get my way. But I’m often left feeling shoved around and out of breath when life doesn’t go as expected.
In Your Nose, Out Your Mouth
Take a deep cleansing breath. That’s what my choral director from college said when we warmed up to sing.
Inhale, up. Exhale, down. That’s what Shaun T. says on my crazy workout videos.
Breathe in for 3 and out for 10. That’s what our birthing class instructor said as we prepared for childbirth.
But I breathe shallow most of the time. I let the cares of life and the pace of ambition dictate my respiratory patterns. I need to slow down, inhale deep, and let God be on the throne of Heaven and my heart.
I scurry and hurry and drop and plop and need to come up for air.
The breath of God is in my nostrils, yet I often take it for granted.
As a get-it-done gal, who lives quite frantically most of the time, I battle worry, insecurities, people-pleasing and controlling tendencies—and I want to be made well.
I don’t want my shallow breathing to lead to shallow living, so I pause and ponder what it is that God is speaking to this try-hard heart.
When faced with the unexpected twists and turn of life, we often pant or push. But what if we learned to breathe deeply and rest in the care of our Creator, regardless of our circumstances?
What if we allowed our work-hard tendencies to wrap us around the One who holds us, and all things, together?
It’s a good thing to get things done, but when we do so, with a self-sufficient, it’s-all-up-to-me, mentality, we rob ourselves of the mental, physical, emotional (and even spiritual rest) that could be ours in fuller measure.
The Source of Breath:
God’s ways are different and higher than ours. He is the Giver of breath, of life, and He is there when we breathe shallow, hold our breath, or feel like we can’t take our next one (see Acts 17:24-25).
I want to breathe deeply and not because I’m trying to cope or labor. I want to let God’s love, creativity, and care fill my lungs with grace. I want to exhale praise and gratefulness for all He is and all He does.
On our way to checking things off our to-do list, let’s take God’s lead instead of insisting that we know best. Let’s trust the Breath-Giver to sustain us. Let’s thank God for the very breath we have, right now.
“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)
Today’s guest post comes from Sarah Cummings and it is filled with great tips to help you feel energized in the morning.
Hi, there sleep fans, my name is Sarah. I love nothing more in this world than grabbing an early night. I adore getting all wrapped up, cozy and settled, then reading a chapter or two of a good book. I’m actually such a fan of sleep that I turned it into my day job too. I now spend the majority of my waking hours reading and writing about sleep. I firmly believe in the transformational power of a good night’s rest. I actually think it’s like superpower. Sweet dreams!
You may not be a morning person. That’s ok, it’s perfectly understandable. Maybe you’ve had a rough night, spent tossing and turning instead of sleeping soundly. Or maybe you’ve got a killer day ahead at work and you just can’t summon the motivation to get out of bed. Or maybe it’s a grim, rainy day outside or you’re home with the kids… and you’ve no idea how to keep them entertained.
Whatever the reason for your morning blues, they can be hard to shake off. And sometimes it’s tempting to simply crawl back under the sheets and snooze until it isn’t morning anymore.
So here are 4 easy ways to feel more energized when you wake up – give ’em a try and who knows? You just might be a morning person after all!
1. Wake up and smell the smoothie
You may think that coffee is the only thing worth getting up for in the morning. Without it, you can’t function. And while a good aromatic brew is great from time to time, the danger is when you start depending on it for an energy hit. Because sure, it gives you a boost for a little bit; but then the crash comes all too soon. And the midday post-caffeine slump can be far worse than any morning grogginess.
So instead of relying on that caffeine hit when you wake up, why not whip up a healthy smoothie instead? A glass of some tasty green stuff acts as a great breakfast accompaniment, keeps you fuller for longer and avoids a caffeine crash from affecting your morning. Instead, you’ll be full of energy and ready to face the day.
2. Take time out to meditate
Sometimes we’re so frazzled in the morning, preparing and planning for the day ahead, that we exhaust ourselves before we even leave the house. Our bodies and our minds are in overdrive, tensed up instead of chilled out. On the other hand, we may be feeling overly lethargic, lacking the energy to move at all, sluggishly moving to the kitchen and out the door before realizing that we’re still in our pjs. Whoops.
But by setting aside some time each morning to meditate, you can help your body settle down and your mind to feel calm and clear. At first, it can be tricky – either you won’t be able to stop yawning or your mind will be racing with thoughts – but try it every morning for a week and you’ll notice a big improvement. You’ll probably feel calmer, yet more alert, rested but focused.
Meditation is a great way to summon energy for the day ahead. And if you don’t believe you have the time to meditate, just set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier instead. Simple!
3. Go for a swim
Any form of exercise in the morning, like taking a yoga class or going for a run, is great for giving us a nice boost of adrenaline. And early-morning swims are one of the best ways to wake up both body and mind.
Whether it’s in the sea or your local swimming pool, that immersion in cool water and moving the kinks out of your body as you swim is all you need to shake off cobwebs from the night before.
Finish it off with a hearty breakfast and you’ll be ready for anything!
Psst… If you don’t happen to have a swimming pool nearby, or if you don’t feel you have the time, take a cold shower instead. Talk about a great wake-up call!
4. Get to bed early
Sometimes we’re so groggy in the morning because we’ve stayed up way too late the night before. And whether you’ve been partying, or working, or just chilling, going to bed at 1 am and then expecting to wake up fresh at 7 am just ain’t gonna happen!
Adults are recommended to get 7–9 hours of sleep every night. So if you need to get up at 7 am, you should be well asleep by midnight. Since going to bed at 10 pm, I’ve started waking up at 6 am and actually being able to spring out of bed! Getting up earlier also means I’ve got time for a morning run on the beach, which is the perfect start to my day.
So, those are my handy hacks to waking up with…well, if not a smile quite yet, at least not with a groan of despair! Give them a try, enjoy the energy boost, and have the great day you deserve.
Sarah Cummings is a regular contributor at sleepadvisor.org sharing tips on how to get high quality sleep nightly.
SPECIAL OFFER: Get my interactive video course based on my best-selling book Sacred Rest (including exclusive videos, worksheets, and assessments to help you get the rest you need) along with over 90 other digital health resources for 98% OFF! Offer only good through Monday, Sept 10th. Details HERE