Have you ever been surprised at how quickly the seasons change?
Quickly, sometimes surprisingly. A bright, brutally hot summer abruptly turns to a chilly, gray fall. Fall to winter. Frozen winter to a blooming spring.
It’s a bit the same with the seasons in our lives. Our seasons change, but not always with our consent. We want to stay in the sunshine forever, and keep the cold far away. Some seasons are longer than others. There are seasons that we long to change. Seasons at a certain job may seem to drag out, or a rut-filled season within a relationship.
No matter what, we are called to faithfulness in every season. It’s our Creator’s decision when a season will change. Only the Lord knows exactly why the door closes quickly on a beautiful season, and a dark season seems to stretch on endlessly. It’s our job to trust our Heavenly Father. Trust, and be faithful.
Seasons are a gift. May we practice presence and embrace the beauty and lessons in each one.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”~Ecclesiastes 3:11
(Happy Autumn! I always find this to be such a season of change and hope. Autumn is a season that brings much shifting. May you find refreshment, hope, and healing in this season of transformations!)
Life is made up of moments. Some people don’t give much power to a moment. “It’s only one.” This gives them an excuse to create destructive habits or to live life without intention or purpose. Each moment is adding up to a future, whether we realize it or not. It is moments that change our lives!
Moments of choosing to believe lies from the Enemy or the lies that others have told us about ourselves.
Moments of choosing to love when you don’t “feel like it.”
The moment you choose to respond with peace instead of losing your temper.
The moment you meet your spouse, whether something dramatic takes place within you or not.
The moment when your child is placed into your arms for the very first time.
The moment you forgive and let go of what happened years ago, or even a few months ago. You release yourself and release that person.
A moment in which you choose to communicate with the other person rather than assume the worst about their motives.
The moment a person chooses to reach for the phone and seek authentic relationship instead of porn, alcohol, or drugs.
The moment your perspective forever changes due to an experience or a sickness that could have taken your life–but you’re still here.
The moment in which you choose love over fear.
It is in each moment that we choose to become a lesser version of ourselves, or to become the image that our Creator had in mind when He lovingly molded us in our mother’s womb.
Moments are what add up to make a life! Be open to each moment and what it has to teach you. Live each moment fully present. God is working through all of them. And in the moments you never expect, He will do miracles!
Lately I’ve heard many people mention their inability to sleep at night. This is a
frustrating problem! Sleep is crucial to our physical and mental well-being, as well as our ability to fulfill our daily tasks. Insomnia isn’t normally something I struggle with, but unfortunately I’ve also had my recent bouts of it. There are a few key things that I’ve found helpful for myself, and I will share a few of those tips, as well as some others. Did you know that the journey to falling asleep more easily actually starts long before your head hits the pillow? Here are a few tips that may be useful in battling insomnia and falling asleep more easily:
Exercise regularly. There are actually studies which have found that exercise promotes falling asleep easier. Exercise may even help your Circadian rhythm to harmonize itself.
Write a to-do list for the next day. If you find yourself worried about all that has been left undone, write it down. That way you can relax a bit more while also not being stressed out about forgetting what you need to do the next day.
Limit your screen time before bed. It’s best to cut out screens a few hours before you go to bed. If you do find yourself needing to using screens, there are actually glasses you can wear which will help to block out some of the light and allow you to use screens without disrupting your body’s clock. There are also apps that you can download for your phone or computer, including Twilight, which will cut out some of the unnecessary brightness after a certain hour.
Make sure that light isn’t interfering with your ability to sleep. For those living in big cities, streetlights filtering in through the windows can make it very difficult to sleep. When there is light, your body has difficulty falling asleep because light normally means daytime! There is something called “blackout blinds” which are very effective in making a room dark and promoting better sleep. Make sure that any alarm clocks or other electronics aren’t shining where you can see them.
Watch your caffeine intake. Some people need to cut out caffeine after a certain hour of the day, or else they will have great difficulty falling asleep. You may need to limit caffeine throughout the day. Figure out your body’s unique makeup. For myself, I’ve had to cut out caffeine completely. I’m a huge tea-drinker, but after some terrible nights of not being able to fall asleep and feeling wired, I realized that it’s just not worth it. I stick to caffeine-free herbal teas now.
Drink a cup of chamomile tea before bed. I’ve definitely found this to be calming and helping me to wind down. There are many varieties of chamomile tea at the store. At one point I was drinking chamomile tea with lavender, which I really enjoyed. I think a cup of chamomile tea actually helps me to sleep more deeply and get a better night’s sleep as well.
Journal. If you are finding yourself going through a lot, this can be especially helpful. Journal is a relaxing and meditative practice. If you have a lot on your mind, journaling can help you to process this, and to possibly feel less stressed out.
Pray. I’ve written before about the Examen. This prayer is a great way to wind down and wrap up your day. The prayer consists of different parts, but basically you are processing your day before your Creator, including how you are feeling God’s presence, as well as ways that you can do better in life. Any way that you can connect with God at the end of the day can be relaxing and bring more contentment to your life in general.
Are you anxious? Everyone has troubles and challenges. If you are finding that anxiety is having effects on your life, including your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep, please talk to a counselor. There is no shame in doing so! Not only will you find yourself better able to sleep as your anxiety improves, but you’ll also find yourself living a life of greater freedom in all areas!
I hope that you find some or all of these tips helpful! Happy sleeping!
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.~Ephesians 2:10
I celebrated my birthday recently. I’m not going to tell you how old I am…Most people are shocked at my age anyway, since youthful genes run in my family. Additionally, I’m quite petite. Put simply, the number doesn’t matter. These days, I’m pondering life and the lessons I’ve gained more than before.
I no longer put societal expectations about age and the timeline for God’s plan for my life together. God has given us each a different story to write. It’s refreshing that none of us is exactly the same. We can always learn from one another and the different ways that God works in each our lives. It can be difficult to understand why the Father gifts one person in a certain way and not another person, but He is sovereign. Only He knows why, as tough as that can be for us to swallow.
In the past year, I had many opportunities to actually “walk in faith.” By the world’s standards, I went about a lot of things in a way that isn’t normally recommended. I think some people think I’m crazy for the peace I’ve gained from Christ about certain areas of my life. But you know what? We serve a faithful, all-powerful God. He has never let me down, and I know that same faithfulness will continue this year and forever.
I am astounded when I think upon the gift of life. Earthly life is definitely not perfect and there are always struggles of various types. Yet when I ponder that this life is a gift, and I could have never existed at all, or even not been given the chance to live…It puts it into a whole new perspective! What a tremendous gift, to live, learn, and love.
I was an idea of the God of the universe! So were you, and every other person in existence at any time. I don’t think our minds can fully comprehend it. What is also profound is that each of us were created for a specific & unique purpose!
I can’t wait to grow closer to Jesus Christ during this next year of my life and to see how He leads me further into the purpose I was created for…
Certain cultures (especially parents within a culture) tend to place immense pressure on students regarding the issue of their education. From the time a child is young, it is drilled into them that they absolutely must succeed in school. The child pours
themselves into their studies from the time they are very small. They graduate from high school and go on to college and obtain a degree. This is a tremendous accomplishment. But, oh, but you can’t stop at a Bachelor’s degree! You must go on for a Master’s! But everyone has a Master’s nowadays, right? It’s not sufficient. Go on for a PhD! Perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit.The point is, a huge emphasis is placed on education nowadays. There are many beneficial aspects to this. As with anything, there are also downfalls. Education and knowledge are immensely valuable. Much progress can be made in a person’s life and within society due to education. Yet, sometimes societal or familial pressure in this area can be overwhelming.
This pressure can plant the idea within a person’s head that their worth is based upon their performance and academic achievements.This is a lie.One’s worth is not found in the level of education they attain or how well they perform academically. A person’s worth is found in their identity as a unique child of God, created by the Most High!
Here are a few tips to practice positive mental health as it relates to academia.
Evaluate why you are attending school or studying your subject. As with anything, check your motivations. Perhaps you are anxious or feeling down because you are not actually following your call and are simply pursuing what your parents pressured you into. Only you can figure this out, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, the body and mind are tired, and you just may even need to take a semester off. Don’t be afraid to make the decision to change direction or to take a break, if necessary. These decisions will be difficult to make now, but will pay off immensely in the long run.
Live a balanced life. Do not let yourself be consumed by your studies. We all need balance in our lives. As humans, there are multiple facets to each of us. The good news is, that taking time away from studying refreshes you and allows you to return to your studies more focused. Don’t lose who you are as you go about your academic program. One day you will graduate (it’s true!), and life will go on without school. Even while you are attending school, it’s important to take care of your physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health. I’ve found that having some sort of creative outlet is helpful as well. Even as a student, you are building habits that will carry into life after school.
Don’t be afraid of failure, or what appears to be failure. Despite your best efforts, you may not pass a test. A paper may come back with a less than stellar grade. Your thesis or dissertation may need extensive rewrites or even be rejected. Someone I know spent 5 painstaking years of his life for a PhD that never materialized. After this experience, he discovered great joy and a calling to teach non-native speakers of English. We are human, and the fact is that life sometimes involves failure. Sometimes failure actually becomes success, as we find a new path to follow with joy. It may simply be a learning experience that teaches you to go about studying in a different manner next time.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This may seem like a silly tip. Yet we forget sometimes or refuse to ask for help! We could go a lot further if we asked for help. Perhaps this means meeting with your professor or academic adviser. It could mean admitting to yourself that you need to utilize the tutoring center. It could also mean counseling if you are struggling immensely with stress in your life. Importantly, it definitely means praying and asking God for help on a consistent basis! Being a student is not an easy vocation!
Remember who you are and Whose you are. Your parents may be upset that you received less than A’s, or that you choose a different program than they planned for you since the cradle. There are numerous scenarios that can occur. Always lean on your Savior and remember that your value is found in His love. A bunch of letters after your name or publications in prestigious journals won’t go with you to the grave. Only our relationship with Christ will be eternal.
Depend on God to help you with your academics as you put forth your best effort! Remember who you are and Who created you! Live a balanced life, not forgetting other aspects of yourself.
(Note: A dear reader requested this topic. A very important and necessary topic, for sure! I hope that I provided something helpful for you in this post!)
An exciting possibility recently surfaced in my life, quite unexpectedly. Immediately I began to play out what might occur, when, and how all the other aspects of my life would be affected by this possibility. In my mind, I began to manipulate everything to work out nicely. Essentially, I began to try to take the reins and to plan out each detail.
Especially for those of us with leadership abilities and tendencies, it can be difficult to give over control of our lives. In fact, it can be difficult even to see when we are seeking control, since it is part of the very fabric of our nature. However, all this planning is in vain. You see, GOD is ultimately in control. Though it’s important to have a direction…It is all “God willing.” No amount of planning or manipulation on our part can accomplish what God has for us.
The good news is, I don’t need to plot out every aspect of my life! I can let go of stress and anxiety as I learn to simply trust.My Creator knew my path and all the beautiful twists and turns it would take before I was even in my mother’s womb! I could never have imagined the beautiful experiences I would have in my life, the connections I would meet that would shape my life, and how so many details would seamlessly meld together at a perfect time. As I look in awe over the numerous miracles in my life, I look forward to seeing how He will do it again!
Isn’t it amazing the miracles that happen….When we let God, be God!
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”~Ephesians 3:20-21
Faith can be a huge help when it comes to mental health struggles. In fact, it has been shown that faith can have a positive impact on mental health and on reducing anxious or depressive symptoms! Faith can also assist you in thinking positively, since faith gives us hope. We know that faith enriches our lives in so many ways and gives us hope for eternity as well.
Please be aware: there is a danger of “over-spiritualizing” mental health. There is a real biological component to many (if not most) struggles with mental health, including depression and anxiety. If someone tells you to simply pray it away, they are not looking at the whole picture. It’s true that faith in God can assist us in our struggles with mental health. In fact, forgetting the spiritual component of ourselves can be detrimental. But please realize there is more going on than a lack in prayer life and support that person as they seek whatever other help may be necessary for them.
Below are a few ways to find improved mental health with faith:
Soak yourself in the Word. Instead of letting negative thoughts take root, read God’s word. Do an internet search for the promises of God. There are many! Study His Word consistently. The Psalms are also a great place to take refuge in times of difficulty. There is a Psalm for all kinds of emotions and occasions.
Pray. Yes, it’s simple, but many people forget to do it! Instead of letting yourself fester in negative emotions, bring it God right away. Allow Him to carry your burden. Seek a close relationship with Him.
Recognizewhen your struggles are caused by sin, past or present. Confess your sin and learn to live in freedom from guilt and shame. Walk into the freedom and life that Jesus Christ offers. He doesn’t want us to live trapped in guilt about our past. He tells us to “go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
Praise in every circumstance. Learn to thank God for your blessings instead of focusing on what you don’t have. This practice will not only keep you rooted in thankfulness to the Lord, it will help you to stay mindful of the great things in your life and remind you that you are truly blessed! Praise is a mindset changer.
Get in the practice of doing the Examen. This allows you to stay in gratitude. Gratitude has positive effects on mental health (similar to praise, above). The Examen also keeps you rooted in listening to the voice of God in your life and seeking His will for you. (Also: check out this journal, which I used a number of years ago. Though it’s not specifically an Examen journal, it more or less follows the same pattern.)
Read books that focus on God and His goodness. There are so many books out there, from this generation and from when the Church was in its earliest beginnings. Reading these inspirational books can help you delve into a deeper walk with God. I’ll leave a short reading list at the end of this post. Please leave any other suggestions you have. (Of course, I’m going to leave my motherly caution to be careful of what you read, as there are many false teachers out there and books with half-truths!)
Surround yourself with positive, faith-filled people. There’s nothing like being surrounded by people who truly live what they believe. This can do wonders when you yourself are struggling with faith. These people can give you encouragement in the tough times.
Seek (Christian) therapy. Struggleswitheatingdisorders, depression, anxiety, etc. areaffectedby and can be exacerbated byourpast& present relationships and life situations. A therapist in the world can assist you. However, looking at life from a godly perspective takes into account the entire picture and remembers your relationship with your Creator and Savior. As always, I recommend Christian therapy if you are looking for truth-based and sound therapy. In my experience with Christian therapy, the therapist will ask questions about your relationship with God, about how God fits in with what you are feeling and experiencing, and also will feed you truths from His Word.
Faith has been crucial to many people struggling with their mental health. Faith gives us hope in our earthly future (Jeremiah 29:11) and in an eternal future! However, please don’t be afraid to seek help in the resources and people that God has given, when needed! Remember, He told us that “where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14).
(Short) Recommended Reading List
The Holy Bible
Josiah’s Fire by Tahni Cullen
To Heaven and Back by Mary Neal, MD
Left to Tell & Led by Faith by Imaculee Ilibagiza (note: Left to Tell takes place during the Rwandan genocide; not recommended for sensitive readers)
Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young (spot-on devotion for each day)