Where are you today? I don't mean physically. I mean, where are you in life? On a mountain? In a valley? Content? Daily going insane? Somewhere in the middle? If you made it here to this blog post, I invite you to get somewhere quiet and take a few minutes to read on. This is something I teach with ladies on a regular basis. It's also something I do on a regular basis. Sometimes when we feel like we are constantly fighting hurricane strength "life winds", our daily quiet time with the Lord just isn't enough. We have to structure in purposed "re-focus" time. It has to be intentional and it is OUR responsibility. Otherwise, it's like not getting your tires rotated for 2 years and then wondering why your car is constantly veering off your intended path. Knowing what to do is one thing. Doing it requires a continuously new level of discipline.
Sometimes changing our situation can be as simple as changing a few of our habits that reflect and affect the ebbs and flows of life. Every situation is different and we are all in different seasons. However, I would like to share with you 3 practical things you can do intentionally that can dramatically affect the way you respond as a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. If you don't already, I encourage you to put these things into practice on a regular basis.
- Monitor your breathing patterns.
Pay attention to how you are breathing. Do you constantly find yourself holding your breath? Are all your breaths short and shallow? Would you know if they were? Do you get still and focused enough to pay attention? When you feel the pressure of the world begin to weigh on your shoulders, stop and check your breathing. Purposefully take a few deep breaths and check your breathing posture.
Remember this, filling your lungs with ample air is what helps you to float. Waves will come. Life will happen. When a wave comes, you either sink below or rise above. Taking deep breaths and relaxing is key to rising above - physically and mentally. This enables you to take control of your focus and remind yourself that the God we serve is bigger than any mountain (or wave) we may face.
- Raise your expectations.
Culture can condition us to expect very little out of circumstances. Small minded thinking runs rampant. We forget what we deserve and the power of the One who made us. Many times, before we have even scoped out the situation, we immediately expect the worst. It's the "why does this always happen to me?" attitude. We are thrust into our "mayday mayday!" mode before we have even stopped to think, breathe and pray. I will be honest with you, this is a hard habit to break. It's easier to put a diaper on a fish than it is to change thinking patterns that are cultural and generational. Ask me how I know--no I haven't diapered a fish--just squirmy toddlers. To look at day to day life and expect God's best is hard. Life is hard. We have a saying in our home. You can constantly find us saying, "Everything always works out for me (us)." We have ingrained that, we believe it with everything we are. This applies to random strangers giving us free stuff, favor following us with travel, traffic and everyday life, blessings at home, church, school and life. We fully expect everything to always work out for us. It's a powerful expectation. It isn't a statement of saying there will be no hiccups along the way. It's a statement proclaiming that no matter what, we EXPECT God's best. He knows better than we do and if we spend our time praying and expecting instead of worrying and freaking out---HE WILL work things out on our behalf. Hashtag Romans Eight Twenty Eight!!!
Did you know you are the only one who can decide what causes you to freak out. You have been given control of your emotions and reactions. I dare you to make changes in this area this final month of the year. Set yourself up for change in 2017 by remaining calm through storms and hard days. It doesn't mean things won't completely STINK sometimes. Because it will. But how you react to the stink and expect through the stink attests to your character and the growth happening inside of you.
- Give to yourself and give of yourself.
One of the best ways to stay focused is to regularly and consistently give to yourself and of yourself.
Okay, so what does that mean? Let's start with giving to yourself, since this essentially has to happen in order to do the latter. The number one thing women need to be better at giving themselves is GRACE. Many times, when we are experiencing shallow breathing and tense freak-out moments, it's directly tied to insufficient grace. We haven't given ourselves enough grace. Our standard for ourselves is a friend, neighbor or Pinterest page instead of God's Word. When we don't give ourselves enough grace, it trickles over to not having enough grace and patience with our families, husbands and children. It can make us crazy, cranky wives and mommies. It's no way to live. If you are grace deficient, get into God's Word and let him remind you of your worth and remember that "His grace is sufficient for you + His power is made perfect in your weakness." (2 Cor. 2:19) Shout somebody!
The second part of this giving process is giving of yourself. This is a simple, yet essential one. We should constantly and continually be giving to life change. Volunteering, serving in your church, giving to food banks, blessing families with clothing, keeping a friends children (for free), mentoring teens at your church......the list goes on (and on). You know what fills your heart and God has wired each of us differently. There is something about focusing on ministering to others that balances out life. It helps us take the focus off of us and all our issues. It's good for your mind and your heart. God has called us to serve and his heart smiles when we do. The key in this is balance. Make sure you aren't serving more than what's healthy and that you aren't using that as a getaway from life issues that you should be working on. Don't let giving of yourself to consume you and keep you from the discipline and growth the Lord has for you. Everything is healthy in balance.
Be encouraged today, God sees right where you are and every detail is important to Him. When you feel stuck in a fog, remember that the sun (Son) is what clears the fog. Cling close to Him and follow in His ways. His desire is for you to be the best version of yourself so He can use you to impact the world for Him. God has big plans for your life, no matter your gender, age, diagnosis or circumstance. Cultivate a desire for progress, not perfection. Let's join our hearts together to continue to pursue growth, giggles and God's best for our lives.
Until Next Time,