Lately, I’m trying to get into the “gratitude groove.” What’s that, you ask? To me, it’s a way of life in which I’m continually praising God. It’s the practice of remembering, every single day, to praise God for new blessings, and for those blessings that I experience every single day. There is one notable way that I put this into practice.
Every night before falling asleep, I make an effort to praise God for at least 10 things.
This practice is calming and puts life into perspective. No matter how stressful a day was, there are always things that we can praise God for. We can even be grateful for challenges, as these strengthen us and allow us to rely more on God. Even on the difficult days, blessings abound. There a few praises on my list that stay the same from day to day. (For example, my house, my car, my family, etc…) There are certain blessings that God has truly outdone Himself in. I don’t want to forget to praise God for these, even when they are a familiar part of my life. There are so many people that are desiring these very blessings.
I simply thank God for my blessings, but another way to practice gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal.
Gratitude actually has scientific research behind it, and it has been found to be positive for our mental health! Additionally, it can benefit your physical health. It can even help you sleep better. (And I believe that the practice of praising before bed has improved the quality of my sleep.) Practicing gratitude has even helped me have a closer relationship with God. In short, it’s a practice that I’ve only seen positive benefits from. I encourage you to try gratitude and watch how your life changes.
What benefits have you found from practicing gratitude?
Would you like to join me in the gratitude groove?
Lately I’ve been filled with gratitude. I’ve been pondering how I got to where I am today. I think about the people who contributed to raising me during childhood. They sacrificed so much for me, and still do. Many of them are still supporting me, praying for me, and cheering me on. Without them, I would not be the woman I am today.
I think about my ancestors, who hailed from a variety of countries. I don’t know as
much about them as I would like. I do know that without them, I would not exist. Many great qualities have been passed down. I think about the generous spirit that I received and learned from both sides. I think about the love of children and environments that embrace baby talking, play, and letting children be children. I was so blessed to grow up in these environments. Some people grow up in families that don’t know how to deal with children or see them as a burden. Every ancestry comes with various challenges. That includes mine, many times over. Yet I know the power of Jesus to break any curse. I know that I am not a lone individual, but I arrived on a foundation built by many others.
I think about the saints who have gone before. Beginning with the Apostles, they had numerous weaknesses. Christ didn’t forsake them despite their evident weaknesses. Think about Peter, who Jesus put in a leadership position, despite his denials. The Apostles clung to the faith to the end, some even paying the price with
their lives. Then throughout the past 2000 or so years, there have been countless others who lived lives worthy of their calling. There was Monica, who prayed her wayward son (Augustine) and her angry, faithless husband to unshakeable faith, even when it seemed her tears and prayers would have no pay off. These, and many, many more. They give me the example of keeping faith in any circumstance. They cheer us on and intercede still. The family of God doesn’t end with earthly death.
Always, we are “people in process.” I know that whatever my process looks like, and however far I feel from the person I was created to be, I am surrounded by people cheering me on to my finish line. Here in the earthly realm, and in realms beyond imagining. I can’t give up the fight. I’ve come too far. They came too far, and gave too much. Because of who they were, I am.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”-Hebrews 12:1
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”-John 15:13
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”-Ephesians 4:2-3
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!
We often speak of Lent in terms of a desert. For 40 days, Jesus withdrew to the desert to fast and pray. We do the same, though figuratively speaking. For the 40 days of Lent, we devote ourselves to increased prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
For awhile now, I’ve realized that I need to cut down on the noise in my life. The sources of that noise are many: various social media platforms, music in the car and at home, and reading many news stories that either leave me disturbed or are simply pointless in the grand scheme of things. This is basically what my Lent is revolving around: reducing the “noise” in my life in order to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Though being deprived by fasting of various types resembles going into the desert, there is fruit. We are being pruned, old habits cut away so that there is room to bear new fruit. Our hunger pangs can point us to something–Someone— greater.As we follow Jesus into the desert, it’s a great way to grow in intimacy with Him. Letting go of some of our earthly delights invites in His heavenly love. The time that I spent on the noise now holds silence instead, a perfect opportunity for Jesus to speak to me or I to speak to Him. My heart is being freed up to better love Him and others.
How’s your Lent going? Is there anything you’d like me to keep in prayer? I’m so grateful to be on this journey with you!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Having hope isn’t always an easy task. It’s in the situations when we really need hope that it’s easiest to lose it! Hope is so necessary to live our best lives possible. Hope brings freedom. When we lose hope, we live in anxiety and fear. We lose our joy and our center. Hope lifts the shackles of worry off of us. Hope protects and preserves–when we lose hope, we lose faith in the thing we hoped for! If we are no longer hoping, we might miss it when what we hoped for comes along!
To the world, remaining in hope sometimes seems crazy. But, we serve an awesome God! He’s a way-maker, a miracle worker, a promise keeper…Jesus Christ came as a human being to earth, this painful, messy, confused place. Then He died and actually rose from the dead for you–for your eternal JOY! HOPE is what God offers!
In finding your dream job, or a job…Have hope! Maybe there are still some stepping stones before you get there, so that you can do the BEST job possible! Or, maybe God will reveal something even greater to you along the way!
As far as meeting a suitable spouse…Have hope! Being hopeless isn’t going to attract the person you are waiting on! Have HOPE in God’s promises and goodness…Even if the timing is not what you wanted or what the world thought was reasonable!
In any situation…Have hope! You never know how the situation will turn around! In my life, I remember a time when I had been job searching for months…I had interview after interview…But no job offers (except retail). One day, out of the blue, I had an email from a supervisor at an organization where I had volunteered a few years back. They were starting a new program–and my qualifications literally fit perfectly with what they were looking for! Basically, it was my dream job due to the different elements of it. I got the job almost automatically! Believe me, I never would have expected that to happen! But GOD.Faith and hope sustained me throughout all those closed doors!
Find hope! It will add increase and strength to your life, as well as to the lives of those around you! An attitude of hope is, well, hopeful! If you’re struggling with finding hope…Pray for it! Believe me, it will be granted, sometimes in ways you never expected! I love all my readers and I pray that each of you has an outpouring of hope as you read, in whatever situation you need hope!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Today the second reading was from Philippians. If we followed St. Paul’s advice, we would have a lot more peace in our lives! We would learn to dwell on God instead of cluttering our lives with worry. Our minds would be so much more inspired and pure as well. Soak in this powerful passage and let’s start off the week in a great way!
“Brothers and sisters:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9
Jesus was the Son of a carpenter. He would have, then, followed in the footsteps of His (earthly) father. The time between the beginning of His ministry and His death and Resurrection was 3 years. Jesus likely began carpentry at a young age and assisted Joseph
for many years in this trade, until the time His ministry began. Thinking of our lives, He’s given us many tools to use.These tools may not be a saw or a hammer, but they are what He’s given us to use as we build our lives alongside Him. These tools help us in various ways as we work out our salvation with “fear and trembling.” These tools help us to navigate our lives. Because Jesus was a carpenter,it seems fitting that He works through so many circumstances in our lives by various tools.
This life is a difficult journey. There are seasons where we can feel the grace and sunshine on us moment by moment. Other seasons? Not so much. Other seasons are dark and we struggle constantly. We may feel helpless sometimes. Thankfully, our Father hasn’t left us alone.
What tools has He given us to navigate and build our lives?
His Word-His word provides consolation, comfort, conviction, guidance, and anything else we could ever need.
His Holy Spirit-After Jesus ascended to the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us forever, to lead, guide, and console us!
Prayer-We can connect with the GOD of the universe wherever we are! How amazing is that? Even better, there are styles of prayer to suit every personality, from silent and meditative prayer to belting out in praise!
Other people-We can receive encouragement and confirmation from others. Others can provide wisdom and strength that we need. The Lord did not create us to be alone–in fact, we can’t make it alone through life. Human love can teach us in a small way about the love our Creator has for us.
Counselors-These trusted people help us walk through the broken pieces of our life and into more whole versions of ourselves.
Books-Good books teach, heal, guide, and inspire.
Nature-Nature is a great way to connect with our Creator and de-stress. Nature teaches us so much about our Creator and His ways.
Art and music-Like nature, these gifts of beauty show us Who our Creator is. They can be very healing for many people.
Writing-Pouring one’s heart onto paper is very helpful for many people.
Prophets and the prophetic-These experiences can confirm what the Lord is speaking over our lives.
Laughter-This gift helps us to relax. It helps us to connect with others and is positive physically and emotionally.
Tears-Tears are the words our hearts speak when life seems too much for us to carry. Tears are a release for our body and our emotions. Sometimes they are also a supernatural gift from the Holy Spirit.
What other tools has the Lord given you as you work through life?
Together journeying toward the Creator and becoming the creations we were meant to be.