Don’t Let Circumstances Dictate Your Mood

“When we make this world about us, we begin to worry about our health, finances and other earthly possessions. Our focus becomes on our wants, needs and desires. Whether our life is going well or we are struggling with pain, we must ultimately remember who we are…a spirit born in the image of Christ…here to fulfill a purpose before we go back home.

Think about that…doesn’t it completely change how you feel and see life?”
Laura/gitznjo

My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
Galatians 5:16MSG

Supernatural Help

One thing people typically focus on at the start of a new year is better health. This could mean eating better, exercising, taking supplements, using more natural products on yourself and in your home or something else entirely that’s personal to you and your situation. It could even refer to your spiritual health or the strengthening of your spiritual life.

Love this word of the year and acrostic that my sister, Angela Loomis, posted regarding that very thing:

Although I consider myself to be a spiritual-minded person sometimes I let secular activities crowd out my spiritual activities. I want to focus more on spiritual things, so this year I am going to put more effort into keeping my spiritual routine. My word for this year is SPIRITUAL:

Seek God’s Kingdom first
Pray more specifically
Imitate Jesus’ example
Read God’s word daily
Imitate God’s faithful servants of old
Take time to meditate on God’s Word
Understand the Bible better
Allow God’s word to mold me
Let others know what I am learning

Those are great intentions!

A friend and fellow encourager shared the following words at the start of the year.

Praying that you will receive supernatural help in identifying and achieving your goals and dreams this year, and that God will bless you abundantly.

Pray big. Worry small. Trust God.

What are your intentions?

For several years now, at the start of the new year, I have searched for and shared my “word” for the year. This has often been a word or phrase that I sought through prayer and/or by reading various books and articles to help guide my thoughts and actions for the year ahead. Although a lot of people do this, they enlist various methods for coming up with their word as well as different ways to use it or focus on it in the days ahead.

If you’re not sure how to get started, here are some thoughts from a few other writers/sources that might assist you in discovering your word or phrase for 2020 and understanding the benefits of coming up with one.

“Instead of a rigid New Year’s Resolution, a Word of the Year is your constant—yet gentle—reminder to focus on creating positive change. Use your Word of the Year to help guide your decisions and continue moving towards what you want.

The first step to manifesting anything you desire is awareness and intention. A Word of the Year will set you in the right direction by bringing more awareness to your intentions.” Elizabeth Rider

Dayspring.com asks, “What if you replaced your resolutions with truth from God’s Word? What if you chose to focus on this one theme all year, helping you filter decisions, calm emotions, and face each day with resolve?” They have a 7-question quiz to help you find your word that you might want to check out.

Heidi Kundin from Happiness Is Homemade provides some thoughts on the trend of choosing a word of the year – “I wanted to choose something meaningful that would guide me through the year and be a compass throughout life’s many decisions, something that would encourage me to be the best version of myself.” On her website, she provides a list of 150 Word of the Year Ideas (in scrollable or printable formats). If you’re drawing a blank, this might be a good place to get some ideas.

This year, I took my direction from some thoughts shared in Valerie Alexander’s First Wednesday Happiness Letter of the New Year, a weekly newsletter that I subscribe to. She shared the following:

“This time last year, I shared the exercise that my friend, the sassy Debra Trappen, created for the start of the year. It was to come up with a word that defined your intention for the year, then create an anagram of that word to guide you towards that intention. [Valerie has since noted with input from a reader that “anagram” is actually not the right word. It’s an “acrostic.”]

My intention last year was to worry less and accept more, so my word was TRUST, which turned into:
Take a deep breath
Relax
Unwind
Savor the Moment
Thank the Universe for all that you have and all that you are.

And you know what?
It worked!
I did worry less last year and reaped the blessings that came with all of those guiding actions.”

I have to admit, there have been times in the past when I have started out strong, but let my focus waver as the year went on. I liked the idea of the acrostic giving more definition to my word and providing me with some reminders of what might help me achieve it as well as measure it. After too many years of focusing primarily on work and professsional goals, this year I want to focus on a personal goal – to discover and experience more enjoyment in life. So, my 2020 word of the year is ENJOY!

I want to expect and be open to amazing things happening in my life; notice and be grateful for everyday blessings; take more day trips and other types of trips with my husband where we truly step away from work and daily expectations; enjoy nature more; and make/take time to be creative and have fun doing it. None of these things are difficult; they just take focus and making the right things … the things that really matter … a priority.

Think about what matters to you. What do you want to see and experience more of in 2020? What is your intention and how can you bring it about?

“Seize life! Eat bread with gusto, Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure! Dress festively
every morning. Don’t skimp on colors and scarves. Relish life
with the spouse you love Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange For the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one! Whatever turns up,
grab it and do it. And heartily!” Ecclesiastes 9:9-10 (The Message)

What would you do?

I saw the picture below and the following post in a Facebook group that I am a member of and thought that it was perfect for what I wanted to write about today. Here it is:

A very dirty fish tank showing unhealthy fish. It asks the question: What makes the most sense?

“This is a dirty fish tank. [A really dirty fish tank.] These fish are sick. What would be your first suggestion to help them get better?

Here are two theories…..
Theory 1: Medicate the fish
Theory 2: Clean the tank and put the fish in fresh water.

When most people look at this scenario they quickly determine theory 2 OBVIOUSLY makes the most sense. So, why don’t we apply this logic to our own lives?

We have health issues and go to a doctor and get medications. Then we get additional medications to help with the side effects of the first medications. Most of us are just living our lives addressing the symptoms of an illness and not the cause. We don’t go to a doctor to find the root cause and heal our bodies. Why is that?

Whether you struggle with eczema, acne, UTIs, headaches, anxiety, fatigue, autoimmune diseases, reproductive issues, cysts, chronic pain… You need to clean out your tank and add fresh water.

From the foods we eat to the products we use. Clean it up. 
[Author Unknown]

On Friday, I had a doctor’s appointment to discuss some recent blood tests. She pointed out my Thyroid Peroxidase levels. They were at 114 when the normal range was listed as somewhere between 0 and 34. She said the high levels indicated inflammation and what was called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. My doctor did tell me that it could be treated through medication, but she actually recommended a gluten-free diet, which should reduce the levels and the inflammation. Yay for a good doctor.

What did I do? I went home and ate some Bagel Bites. Crazy huh? I guess I was thinking that if I was going to have to give up so many things I liked to eat soon, that I’d just go ahead and splurge on something that I knew was bad for me. I am quite sure I have a lot of things in my pantry right now that are full of gluten, but the truth is, I don’t even know enough about it yet to determine what I should and shouldn’t be eating. All I can think of is no carbs. 😦

This is the list my doctor gave me of carbohydrates and refined sugars to avoid: breads, pastas, flour tortillas, cakes, cookies, pies, cereals, and crackers. Of course, I love all these things. There goes my everything bagel most mornings, my sandwich at lunch, my homemade banana bread, crackers and cheese, and pasta! Oh man! I do know that there are a lot of alternatives out there these days; I’ve just never had to study ingredient labels so closely or figure out my options before. Looks like I have a lot of research to do.

Of course, I realize that this is an opportunity for me to make some wise choices and clean my tank before things get too bad for me health-wise. I take ibuprofen or Aleve almost every day for neck and back pain, and I’m quite sure the pain and stiffness I experience all the time is due to inflammation, so why wouldn’t I give this dietary solution a try? It’s a natural approach, which might alleviate my need for the medications I currently take.

As soon as I told him about it, my husband was asking me about what had gluten and what did not. He wanted to help me. I really couldn’t answer him yet. But we did specifically look for a restaurant to go to that night with gluten-free options. We found a poke bowl place that specifically listed on their menu only four things they had that did contain gluten. Everything else was “on my diet.” It turns out that sushi rice is gluten free so I didn’t have to give that up. Yay! I was able to build a bowl that I enjoyed without feeling like I was missing out on anything.

And, of course, I know I’m not alone. There are a lot of people who have to eat gluten-free or who have soy, wheat, cinnamon, fruit, or peanut allergies. I actually have a friend who told me a few years ago that she had Hashimoto’s, so I texted her right away asking for info, suggestions, recipes, anything to help me get started down the right path.

No matter your situation you are not walking alone.

So, I wanted to put a reminder out there at this point for anyone reading this, that whatever you are currently going through in your life, whether it is food or health related or something completely different, you are not alone. Just as there is no way I could jump fully into this new mindset without the help and guidance of others who have already walked the same path, you don’t have to go it alone either. Thankfully, with the Internet, we have access to so much information and to related communities all over the world. And, of course, God’s got your back as well. He has likely placed people along your path who can provide the support and encouragement you need to face your issues.

It’s time for me to practice some self-care and treat my body right. While I may crave processed foods that are bad for me at times, I know (with some help and in time) I can find healthy alternatives that nourish me and allow me to feel my best and be my best self. If anyone has some good links, recipes, suggestions, advice on my thyroid issue and eating gluten-free, I welcome them in the comments below. Thank you, and remember whatever you do, and wherever you go, be kind to yourself as well as to others.

Give yourself the same care and attention that you give to others and watch yourself bloom.

[Just to clarify, for those who know my husband has fish tanks, that really dirty tank in this post is not ours. The one in the featured photo is though.]

Bloom Anyway

Recently, we have had an insane number of grasshoppers in our backyard. Green ones, brown ones, yellow ones. I’ve never seen so many.

As you walk through the grass, dozens of them spring up and out of the way. Every day, I have to knock them off of my potted plants where they are chewing up the leaves at an alarming rate. Luckily, my dog, Taco, thinks it is great fun to chase and catch them.

Despite the grasshoppers’ daily feasting on my sunflowers, those plants just keep growing taller and the bright yellow flowers keep doing what they were made to do – growing, opening up a few petals at a time, blooming, and giving me something pretty to enjoy when I sit out on my back porch. They don’t let the grasshoppers keep them down.

There are seasons that we go through in life where trouble seems to swoop down like a swarm of locusts. Wreaking havoc and destroying everything in its path. But even a single grasshopper can do a lot of damage to a plant; just as one problem can keep wearing away at you and your strength and stamina. Sometimes, you get to where you think you can’t handle it … where it feels almost like it is too much for you to bear. Those darn grasshoppers just … won’t … stop! Bloom anyway.

I recently read something (don’t know the author) that made a good point. “The enemy wouldn’t be attacking you if something very valuable wasn’t inside of you. Thieves don’t break into empty houses.” You are special. You have worth. And you are stronger than you think you are.

Life’s challenges may bug you and they may change you, but don’t let them defeat you. Keep getting up. Keep showing up. Keep looking up. Keep growing. So your petals may be a little off balance; so what. Focus on progress not perfection. Your life will continue to unfold and you will grow into an even more unique and beautiful version of you.

And even better news … God will be with you through it all.

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” Isaiah 40:31

“So do not fear, for I am with you; … I will strengthen you and help you.” Isaiah 41:10

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.” Isaiah 43:2


Bloom Anyway

Nothing Is Certain

Sometimes we have to just let go … and let God!

Worrying, over-thinking, stressing over the outcome of things that are beyond our control; struggling to stop the waves from crashing over us in one of life’s storms; attempting to slow down or speed up the ticking hands of time to savor or skip through our circumstances to avoid pain … all of these things are useless, frustrating, or impossible.

We can’t stop or control the various things that life throws at us. We can’t foresee what’s to come or how to best get through our current trials. But we can trust the One who knows, who understands, and who loves us. We can place our burdens at His feet, breathe deeply, and take advantage of the restorative gift of rest.

While nothing in this life is certain … God is. Rest in Him.

Lean on Me

I’ve posted this image before. Just wanted to reshare today for a few individuals that I know are going through tough times. There’s no need to try to overcome and push through on your own. Even if you think you can’t share the particular details of your burden with others, you can still take advantage of the benefits of shared faith and friendship. It’s okay to lean on someone else when you are feeling weak or fragile, to find that safe harbor to help you weather the storm. And if you can be that source of kindness, comfort, and connection for someone else today, I pray that you’ll reach out with an encouraging word or a hug and be a blessing.

Pray big. Worry small. Trust God.

Getting Back in the Game

Well, looks like it has actually been a whole year since I last posted. I can’t believe it. I thought it had been several months, but didn’t realize how much time had passed since I last shared on my blog. I apologize … again. It has happened before when I allowed other things to take up my time, but I promise I’m going to try to do better … to make this a priority. Encouraging others is important to me; but I can’t just say that, I need to act on it. Of course, I may not write a lot every single time, but if I can share even a brief message or thought with one of my photos a few times a week, and it touches you, strengthens you, or helps in some way, it will be a blessing to me as well. I pray that you will be encouraged here.

Be Where Your Feet Are

Be Where Your Feet Are

If you are tired of running away from your life or tired of running ragged toward the next thing you think will make you feel complete, Hannah’s book Come Matter Here: Your Invitation to Be Here in a Getting There World will help you do whatever it takes to show up for the life God has for you. (I have not read it yet but it sounds like a good one.)