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!)
Just over a year ago, I posted this.The gist of the article was about my fears surrounding taking a huge life leap–a leap that would disrupt the stability of everything in my life. Believe me, it was a turbulent time.
A year later, here I am. I’m still standing. I’m not in the same place, geographically, or in any other area of my life. (For that, I am thankful.) I have moved from fear to faith. Of course, this will be a never-ending process. Throughout our lives, we’ll continually be presented with opportunities to choose faith over fear.
A lot sure has changed in one year! Here’s my testimony:
I left the full-time job I had been clinging to, but which no longer brought me life. I knew my Father would provide for me, but I had no idea how. God granted me a job that pays the bills and also allows the perfect amount of flexibility I need at this time in my life. It’s not easy to find that kind of gig–but of course, with God, all things are possible.
God has granted me a sound mind in order to continue my studies and to excel in them. I’m so grateful to be in school, studying a subject which interests me and will allow me to be an instrument of healing for others. I’m about halfway to graduation!
The clock was ticking, and I had a short time to move to a new home. In the nick of time, God came through with a safe and positive living environment. This also isn’t necessarily easy to find, but God knew what He was doing and opened the door to the place He wanted me to live.
I’ve discovered my true friends. The ones that will stick with you even when you (or they) move away. The friends that have seen you through thick and thin and show no sign of stepping out of your life. In this season, I’ve also met new friends that inspire me to grow deeper with the Lord and to discover new aspects of my life. (I pray that I am that kind of friend for them, too!)
Now I know the truth about fear. It’s stagnancy. Fear gives power to meaningless doubts instead of power to an UNLIMITED God! Fear leaves you a shell of the person that you truly are, and that God wants to transform you to be.
Fear is a lie and keeps you from experiencing the wonders that God has for you.
Now I know the truth about faith. Faith brings growth. Faith brings life. Faith brings joy and open doors that you could never have imagined. Decisions of faith mean learning to rely on God above all, and realizing that He truly does care about our lives and care about us!
Faith is the scariest step you can ever take, but it brings blessing and joy.
If you’re struggling to step out in faith, I pray that you will be strengthened today by the Author and Perfecter of our faith! I pray that your spiritual eyes will be opened to whatever He has for you! I pray that He will release you from the spirit of fear, and pour down the spirit of faith and hope into your life! Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your faithfulness!
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”–Hebrews 11:1
Each day, I see evidence of our Heavenly Father’s thoughtfulness. Even when there are difficulties, He provides solace and blessings in the midst of those difficulties. Every single day, He is sending us “gifts” that reveal His great love toward us. Are we paying attention?
In my life currently, one of these pieces of evidence is some flowers right outside my house. Every morning when I step outside for a busy day, bright yellow flowers greet me. It puts a smile on my face each morning. Another way I know His presence is when I’m feeling overwhelmed at how much I must get done at work and school, and then an appointment gets cancelled and some time opens up unexpectedly. I know my Father is looking out for me, and He’s giving me little signs that He’s right there and won’t let me be overwhelmed.
My thoughtful friend, who is also in graduate school, continually expresses her concern for me. She makes it clear that her door is open anytime for a cup of (real) chai or a meal. So many times, I’ve been able to take a respite from my crazy schedule of school and work for great discussions and delicious Indian food. I’m so thankful to have a friend like her. Her thoughtful gestures fill me with peace. When someone notices a need you have, or something you may benefit from, it is a wonderful experience. Thoughtfulness empowers you to feel supported and receive more strength to continue fighting your battles.
Any thoughtful gesture reveals that you are seen to that person. You are not invisible. Your interests, needs, and wants have been noticed. Not only that, but these thoughtful gestures reveal that you are important. You are valuable.
Let’s pay more attention to the ways our Heavenly Father is looking out for us. Even more, let’s be on the lookout for ways that we can thoughtfully serve others. You never know the difference that your thoughtfulness could make for them.
When have you been on the receiving end of thoughtfulness? What are some ways that you exhibit thoughtfulness toward others?
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…
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”–Matthew 5:48
Parenting is a topic often on my mind. It’s a huge responsibility, greater than anyone could ever imagine.The spiritual, physical, intellectual and emotional
health of a precious human being is at stake! When I reflect about becoming a parent someday, I’m filled with great joy. It’s one of the biggest dreams of my life.However, the reality sinks in that I am very much still a person “in process.” What is the prominent way that children learn character? By observing their parents–both their actions and whether their words make sense with the reality of their actions. When you become a parent, you’re going to have little eyes and ears observing everything you do and say. That goes for even when you don’t expect it. How can I expect a child to turn out a certain way when I myself am living in a different way? If my character isn’t matching what I hope the character of my child will match…How will I teach them?The good news is, we have God’s grace. Even in spite of our shortcomings, God’s grace can work in all circumstances. It’s still working on me, and will be each day until I die. I’ll never be a perfect parent–no parent on earth will be.
Yet, I had a very important realization: I can continually learn from THE perfect and best parent: our Heavenly Father! As I grow into a deeper relationship with God and come to know more and Who He is, I learn from His character. As I journey closer and closer (walking by faith) to the day that I become a parent, I’m going to look at His character and see more of the type of parent I want to be. Most of all, I pray that I can give any child, any person that comes into my life, a glimpse into His deep love and Who He really is.
(Note: I want to begin with a disclaimer that I am very much still figuring things out in this area. However, I’ll leave you with words from the Bible and some thoughts and ideas I’ve gleaned through sermons, readings, conversations…Please feel free to add your thoughts and what you’ve learned in the comments as well!)
Finances are a tremendous source of stress for people all over the world. In fact, I’m sure that if you were to survey people about their biggest sources of stress, finance would be in the top 3 for the majority of people. Finance equates in a big way with our ability to survive and achieve a certain quality of life. It even affects our relationships; one cause of marital discord and divorce is disagreement over finances. As with all aspects of our lives, the lenses with which we view finance is influenced by our faith.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ” Matthew 6:25-33
Jesus tells us clearly that our Heavenly Father is looking out for us. He will provide for us, and we are valuable to Him! We are to place our priorities on the Kingdom of God first.He also warns us that worrying is not productive. Worrying doesn’t take away our troubles or find a solution. Instead of worrying about your situation, pray for solutions!
“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:24
Did you know that Jesus was not talking about an actual sewing needle? He was talking about a narrow gate into Jerusalem, which was named “Eye of the Needle.” In order to get through this gate, all of the possessions that a camel was carrying needed to be unloaded. The camel could then get through, but would also need to hunch down and go through very carefully in order to fit. It seems then, that we must rid ourselves of attachment to material possessions. Wealth does not disqualify one from the Kingdom of God. It is what one does with the wealth that makes a difference. I believe that peace will come to our minds and hearts when we stop trying to keep up with others, and we realize that our greatest treasures are not to be found materially. When we learn to find joy in our relationships with God and other people, and find the beauty that surrounds us in our lives, we will be free from much stress.
However, we know that we cannot survive without food, shelter, and the other necessities of life. God provides, as we read in the passage from Matthew. Though God provides for us, we cannot simply sit idle and wait. We need to do our part. He has given us many gifts and talents to be used. In certain economies, jobs may not be available in the area you studied or have experience. Learning a new skill and finding a creative way to apply it can be a great way to increase your income. It can also be a good way to lessen your stress level and learn not to rely on one employer. (And sometimes, despite our efforts, God does provide in amazing ways without our expecting it!)
Many times, one’s workplace, boss, or coworkers can negatively affect their mental health. Finding a new job isn’t always feasible. In these cases, a counselor can be helpful in dealing with stress and areas of concern. Finding healthy ways to cope for as long as you are in that environment will be of benefit to you.
One last point: get rid of debt, and stay out. Debt can cause great stress. Depending on one’s level of debt, it can also take much money away from the other needs of life and cause you to be overworked. Dave Ramsey‘s books can be a good place to start in learning more about living debt-free and how to go about the process. Additionally, some loans will also allow you to pay based on income; look into this if you need to.
Pray for and actively work toward financial solutions. There are many aspects to this. Perhaps you could start with very small investments when you have a little extra money. You could also start carrying a business card and be prepared when networking connections come along. Learning new skills that can lead to more income is another aspect.
Curb worrying and turn to prayer instead. Train yourself to turn your worries to prayer.
Find healthy ways to deal with workplace stress. A counselor could help you with this. Thesearticles also have some good ideas. Sometimes an environment is toxic, and you will need to find a healthier workplace situation for your mental health.
Free yourself from debt, and don’t let yourself get into debt again. When you think about it, debt is actually a form of slavery! Too many people are in debt beyond their means, causing great distress.
Learn to find your greatest treasure in God, relationships, and the simple beauties of life.
Next up: food and mental health! (It will be the last post in the series!)