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On Coming Alive

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November 27, 2017

What I Learned This Fall

At the end of each season I’m linking up with Emily P. Freeman and other women as we reflect back and share what we learned in that season. It’s a wonderful practice that’s helped me reflect, process, and transition into the next season. As someone who is a self-proclaimed slow-processor and suffers from a forgetful mind/ spiritual amnesia, this has become such a blessing to me each season.

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November 20, 2017

How to Cultivate Gratitude When It’s Hard

*This post is the second post in a 2 part series. 

Last week I shared in my post “Hindrances to Giving Thanks” some of why I struggle with giving thanks, even though I long to. If you haven’t read it yet, you can read it here before you continue on to read these words below.

I’ve learned that in whatever we struggle with, whatever hurts our hearts, there’s power and healing in lament, and there’s power and joy found in thanksgiving. 

Recently I took a poll in my Instastories and asked people if they’ve ever struggled to give thanks. 88% of people who responded, answered yes. The reality is that the majority of us struggle to give thanks. My guess is that if you’re reading these words, it’s more than likely you have this struggle too.

Maybe you aren’t sure why gratitude is hard for you but you just know it is, maybe after reading last week’s post you were enlightened to some of the driving forces behind your struggle, or maybe you’ve been living very aware of what hinders you when it comes to gratitude in your life, but you just don’t know what to do about it.

Here’s the thing, wherever you are in the struggle to give thanks, it’s crucial to understand that the moment you struggle to give thanks is the exact moment you need to intentionally seek it and practice it the most. You need to choose gratitude and keep on choosing it. Don’t give up in the struggle.

When you arrive at the place where you understand that gratitude is hard for you, yet you know the importance of it and the Bible’s commands regarding it, you’re probably left wondering, But how do I do this? How do I give thanks when I want to, but I’m struggling to and I just don’t know how to? Read more

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November 14, 2017

Hindrances to Giving Thanks

*This is the first post in a two part series on struggling with giving thanks.

Have you ever struggled to give thanks? Have you ever longed to be thankful, yet gratitude doesn’t seem to be the natural attitude of your heart — or maybe perhaps given your current circumstances gratitude just quite frankly feels impossible? Well, you’re not alone.

If you were to come over for a cup of coffee this week, you would see a DIY brown, cardstock banner strung across my dining room window.

Give Thanks it says.

What you might not know, is that my heart needs this banner strung across it too. Maybe I’m hoping as I walk past these words daily that they will somehow impress themselves upon my heart.

Giving thanks does not come naturally to me.

I like to think I’m a grateful person. (Don’t we all?) But an honest examination of my heart would reveal my struggle to give thanks, and not just in the hard times, but on any given day. Read more

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October 19, 2017

For The Ones Who Share Their Stories & For Those Who Are Invited To Listen

A series of small, unexpected events led to a quiet drive home alone in the middle of my morning yesterday.

I turned on the radio and pressed the button to skip through the stations in search of something to listen to.  I landed upon a talk radio show I had never heard of on a station I had never listened to before. I released my finger from the button and listened to the conversations and words being shared.

My soul stirred as it soaked in the stories. Before I knew it, the tears in the distant voices coming through my car speakers were intimately forming in my own eyes.

How easily I could have skipped past this station, past these voices and stories, and kept holding down the button until I landed on a station playing a feel good song. I’m so glad I didn’t.

How easy it is to pass over the stories all around us that are asking to be heard, that need to be heard. We do it every day, passing them by far too often. We walk, flip, scroll, skip, and keep on moving past. Sometimes without even realizing it. Sometimes giving ourselves a million excuses as to why but not giving it a second thought so as not to feel the conviction of doing so.

Sometimes the stories are coming from our own children, our family or friends, our co-worker, the cashier at the store, the rugged man on the street holding the cardboard sign. Sometimes they’re screaming loudly in front of us. Sometimes they’re that literal sign in front of us. Sometimes they’re a comment quietly and timidly released into the air secretly begging and hoping to be caught. Sometimes they’re a status or picture or hashtag on social media.

They come in all forms, but they’re all stories, all people, asking to be heard.

Sometimes we are aware of the stories, but most of the time we don’t take the time to stop, to be present, or to listen. I know this because I’ve done this, and I’ve watched others do the same.  Read more

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September 28, 2017

2 Ways to Transform Your Life When You Feel Helpless or Hopeless

The sound of bedroom doors opening and closing wakes me from my less than stellar night’s sleep. Before I even open my eyes, my body stirs, and the pain instantly radiates through me. Each small movement feels like my joints have become creaky, old, rusty door hinges.

Why at 32 do I feel like I’m trapped inside of an 80 year old arthritic body?

I painstakingly pull myself so that I’m sitting upright in bed. I swing my legs, or rather drag them with the assistance of my hands because my joints are too stiff and stuck to move on their own, from the bed to the floor. Every movement takes more effort than it should. The pain aches deep inside my bones, and I let out a moan of discomfort followed by a long sigh.

I force myself to stand, pushing against the mattress, once again with the assistance of my arms to get myself there because my legs just can’t seem to function. And then I go to take a small step forward. A simple step. But I can barely manage. I press my foot down on the floor as I step and immediately retract it as it tells me it won’t be holding up the weight of my body this morning. I momentarily hold my leg out in front of me to examine it and test my knee. It won’t bend at all. The pain travels back and forth between my knee and my hip as I try to achieve even the smallest angle. Nope. Not happening.

I look down at my knee that won’t bend. It’s terribly swollen and looks ridiculous on my skinny leg, that’s not skinny in a nice way, but skinny as in I’ve lost all my muscle tone sort of way.

And then I continue my journey to start my day by hobbling to the bathroom, hunched over, using the wall as a crutch. This morning reminds me of the days immediately following my surgery… 6 months ago.

This isn’t good.

This isn’t good at all.

After not seeing the progress I had hoped for, I finally sought the help of a physical therapist. And yet, I’ve seen no improvement. In fact my knee seems to be progressively worsening.

My knee is never going to heal. This pain is never going to go away. 

I notice the tears wanting out as the discouragement and fear barge in, but unlike those emotions that burst through like a pack of wild and unruly children that I can’t seem to control, I try to control the one thing I’ve become good at: keeping the tears in.

But then I recognize what I’m doing as I refuse to let those tears through. I’m storing up things inside of me that are no good, and as a result hopelessness is rising and flooding my soul.

That old familiar lie of hopelessness. I recognize it more quickly these days, but still it comes.  Read more