From the time, we wake up in the morning till we go to bed at night, thoughts are coursing through our minds. Not just one thought but many. In fact, according to Dr. Leaf we can think 4 to 7 things are the same time.
One day last year I remember feeling gloomy all day. I didn’t want to talk to the kids, I was feeling a lot of anxiety and discouragement over business and finances. I didn’t know why. Life wasn’t that bad but I couldn’t seem to get my feelings out of the gutter. I stopped myself and looked back at the week asking, “What has happened that is leading to me feeling this way?”
It took a while for me to sort through my thoughts to recognize the underlying problem. I realized that earlier in the week I had gotten a phone call about a job I had done that needed to be corrected. It was a minor thing, but from that little incident my thinking had been spiraling downward for several days. I was negative about my abilities in work, which snowballed into worrying about finances (since work is a livelihood in my mind a bad job mean less money).
Things like this happen to all of us. The problem is that we can’t let our thinking spiral because of it. Rather than just knowing that we are grouchy, we must get to the root of the issue.
In 2 Corinthians 10:5 we are told how to take every thought captive. It says, “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
The verse says to demolish arguments and pretensions which are not in alignment with the knowledge of God. Here is why it is so important to know who we are in Christ and to know His promises.
An example in this situation would be that my thoughts were saying I’m never going to make it as a business woman because I made a mistake. However, that is not what God says. God says, “My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) He also says that He knows the plans He has for me to give me a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) And He says that He loves me and calls me His child, reminding me that I will be like Him if I continue to hope in Him. (1 John 3:1-3)
God has given us the ability to separate from our thoughts and take authority over them. In His Word He has given Read More→
My days are busy. I’m sure yours our as well. At times I can feel discouraged, like I’m not doing enough to serve God. Serving God is not a lofty calling but simply has to do with loving people as Jesus loved them. Jesus loved people. He connected with them. It is His desire that we do the same.
Look at Matthew 25:31-46. Jesus speaks how when we serve people in need we are serving Him.
Think about your daily life. How many people do you encounter in a day? Maybe your children’s teachers, your clients, the postman. See these people as a ministry. Ministry is not all about preaching to someone. It also includes serving them, encouraging them, and connecting with them.
It is easy to go through life with our own agenda for the day, focused on what needs to be done to care for our needs like going to work, stopping at the grocery store, cooking dinner and paying the bills. All around us we cross paths with people – people that Jesus cares about.
Just because Jesus reached out to touch many people it didn’t mean everyone was in His close circle of friends. Therefore, connecting with people and touching their life doesn’t mean that you need to be their best friend. What you don’t want to do is to fall into the mentality that you are too busy, and your life is too filled with people, for you to reach out to someone else.
Ask God to bring people to mind who He would like you to connect with like
- Your pastor
- An acquaintance from church
- A family member
- A co-worker
- An elderly neighbor
- A distant relative
Once God has brought someone to mind ask God to show you what this person needs. It could be
- An act of service
- Taking the time to listen to their problem. Listening means you do just that. You don’t need to solve anything – they just need to be heard.
Affirmation and encouragement could include a positive text message to a friend saying “I’m so proud of how well you are doing in_______ area.” Or “I’m praying that God would fill you with His peace today” or simply “How are you doing? God brought you to mind today.” Instead of a text message you could even send a real card!
An act of service could be a homemade meal, a quick stop at the grocery store for a shut in, a cup of coffee for your coworker, offering to watch a friend’s kids, the list is endless. Read More→
This past January my grandfather passed away. He was older and I knew over the past few years he had been showing his age, though he still seemed spry for 87. The day before Christmas Eve we received the phone call that he was very ill and in the hospital. Something about the gravity of my aunt’s voice made me realize it was probably the beginning of the end. I went to bed that evening unable to sleep.
The following day my husband’s family was coming for Christmas Eve dinner and I was doing the cooking. Three kids underfoot, the in-laws for a holiday gathering and my heart screaming, “How can my grandfather be dying?”
The following weekend I made the 6 hour trip with my five year old daughter for company. With each passing highway mile I found the lump in my throat getting bigger. Only two months earlier I had seen Grampa at a family gathering. He had still been active, living at home, though walking with a little assistance from a walker. Was I prepared to see him feebly lying in a nursing home bed?
Two things made my grief over his illness run deep. My dad passed away when I was only seven and this was his father who now lay gravely ill. Growing up Grampa had paid special attention to my brother and I, taking us on yearly trips to places like Disney, Washington DC, New York City, Philadelphia, and Quebec City. He wanted to keep the family connection, doing for us what my father couldn’t do. It was like Grampa was my connection to my late father – the bond I had with him helped me feel I knew my Dad. I felt this slipping through my fingers, as if I was losing all I had left of my father.
Secondly Grampa and I never saw eye to eye on issues of faith. I wrestled with not knowing his eternal destiny. This also weighed heavily on me.
I spent that New Year’s Eve day visiting with Grampa, while my daughter enjoyed the day with her aunts. We spoke of faith and God, for which I am thankful. As I left I hugged him, told him we loved him, and felt him tightly grip my hand. I didn’t want to go. I knew deep down it was the last time I would see him alive.
As I hit the highway again I couldn’t contain the tears. Pulling into a rest stop I called my husband bawling. I was losing Grampa and I knew it.
Less than two weeks later the phone call came. It was expected. But still the finality of death was hard to bare.
Death and dying are all part of life. I don’t want to lose the people I love. Growing up I never grieved my father’s death – I just buried the pain, saying I was ok. Over the last few years I’ve been healing. I’ve had to grieve the loss of my Dad that occurred more than two decades ago. What I found is that God’s healing doesn’t mean the pain hurts less. Healing means I can feel again. I can feel great joy and great sorrow. While my pain was buried I couldn’t feel either of these. Read More→
Especially as women I find we are more susceptible to false guilt than men.
How often do you find these words coming out of your mouth “I feel guilty….”?
“I feel guilty for not spending enough time with my kids”
“I feel guilty for losing my temper.”
“I feel guilty for not having a better relationship with my mom.”
Can you distinguish between false guilt and real guilt or conviction? False guilt leaves us striving in our homes, work and church.
The enemy is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). Satan is working to make our thoughts accuse us – it gives him great delight to see us fall into the trap of feeling guilty for everything. On the other hand with Christ there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1), because if we confess our sins He forgives us (1 John 1:9) and doesn’t remember our sin anymore (Hebrews 8:12).
When we have sinned and we go to Christ asking forgiveness our guilt is erased and our sin no longer has hold over us. However, guilt can produce compulsiveness because it torments us. (Beyond Head Knowledge)
The tormenting voice of guilt stems in part from our childhood. A good article from Focus on the Family points out that “hypercritical upbringings create a hyperactive conscience.” Perhaps growing up you never felt good enough, your best efforts didn’t measure up and you felt like you always had to apologize for everything. It could be that you always feel guilty for not trying harder. Or maybe you struggle with feeling bad that you haven’t done better even though you have tried. Read More→
With the New Year at hand we think in terms of goals of what we would like to accomplish in the coming 12 months. Maybe weight loss, traveling, a mission opportunity or something else. Frequently New Year’s resolutions focus on building our businesses, becoming better moms, getting physically fit or reading through the Bible in a year.
What kind of goal would you set for your mind and emotions? Learning what a healthy mind looks like will help us see where we want to be. According to, Dr. Leaf ‘research shows that around 87% of illnesses can be attributed to our thought life, and approximately 13% to diet, genetics and environment. Studies conclusively link more chronic diseases (also known as lifestyle diseases) to an epidemic of toxic emotions in our culture. These toxic emotions can cause migraines, hypertension, strokes, cancer, skin problems, diabetes, infections and allergies just to name a few.” (Who Switched Off My Brain, p 4)
God doesn’t want us to suffer physically because of our anxieties but desires our minds to be in a state of peace. Look at Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Through Jesus God has given us the gift and ability to have a peaceful mind. In John 14:27 Jesus makes us the promise ‘Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid.’
The pressures of life get me down. I can feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities but God extends peace to us, even if we are weary in our work and homes. The load is not for us to bear alone. God doesn’t want us to be carrying the weight of it all. Instead He desires that we turn to Him for His peace. Read More→
The Christmas season is almost upon us. Every year it catches me by surprise a little. I love Christmas cookies, lights, parties, and the celebration of His birth, but I think we all struggle with the busyness of it. The activities seem to be endless.
One thing I have been working on over the past few years is trying to look objectively at it.
What is it about the holiday that I am struggling with? If it is the busyness, what am I doing that I don’t have to do?
Idealistically I think how great it would be for my kids to make a homemade ornament for all the relatives. I want to make all the favorite Christmas cookies for multiple events like the church Christmas party, our moms cookie swap, teacher gifts, and the three holiday gatherings held at our house. Then there is the annual Christmas letter to write and wrapping, shopping, live nativity events and more. The sheer volume of activities makes me tired just thinking about it.
All the activity seems good when looking at the holiday pictures of past years. And then we see the pictures our friends have posted on facebook of all their baking and decorations. It all looks so perfect – picture perfect and I for one can fall into believing that this is what it looks like to celebrate the holiday. The smiling faces at the festivities may lead us to believe that in this busy season others have found joy when we have found stress.
The truth is none of us are supermoms. We all have our usual responsibilities like work, baths, cleaning, church and laundry (and if you homeschool like me, one more thing to do). Somehow in our busy lives we are adding the Christmas season which is really about finding joy and peace in the birth of our Savior. Yet so often we find ourselves trying to look like we have it altogether and measuring our success by how many cookies we made from scratch, whether are gifts are homemade or store bought, how well our child did in the pageant and so much more. Read More→
This is one situation but it happens so often that when there is a difficulty with technology I spend hours in frustration trying to fix it. I’m sure you have all been there, whether it is an app you use for business, a website crawl error for sales, or a missed message on your voicemail that you can’t seem to retrieve. The technology that helps us to have businesses in this generation can also be our biggest source of anxiety.
Around the same time I had a conversation with my Dad about how especially in Africa the people draw together to pray – often large groups praying for someone who is sick or in need.
Why is it that they are so fervent in faith and here in America we are not quick to run to God? We live with technology at our fingertips. When we don’t feel good we can run to the doctor for medicine or run to google to self diagnose.
When I think of my own mindset – I’m focused on finding my own solutions, doing what we all do, running to the Internet and technology to make life work. Whether it is our time spent trying to make technology for our businesses or whether it is running to the internet for the answers to our questions like, “What are could cause a stomach pain and a headache?”, “How do I know if my child is up to grade level?” “How do I clean my washing machine?” Whatever it is, if you are like me you probably type things in a search bar multiple times a day for various questions.
All that is well and good but what if I stop trying so hard? What if when technological problems arise rather than wasting many hours and frustration consulting Google on the answers to fix the problem, what if I spent more time dependent on God. Praying “Father I need help with this please show me the way.” Read More→
Our natural tendency is to see our flaws – talk about them – expound on them – belittle ourselves and compare ourselves to others. We look at someone else and greatly admire their abilities but fail to see what they admire in is because we have taken out strengths for granted.
This turns to negative self talk. Mentally- internally we are constantly telling ourselves how we want to be better and to do better but we are capitalizing on the wrong thing – on our weakness rather than our strength.
We live in a culture where everyone is trying to become well rounded. In child rearing we give each kid so many opportunities to succeed and put so much before them so they have an opportunity to be whatever they want. But the truth is God didn’t create them to be whatever they want. He gifted them with particular strengths and talents which can be used for His glory.
When we have a strength in one area it is ok to not be that great in another.
Embracing our weakness with grace gives us the ability to accept who God has made us unique.
For example I have been in business for 9 years now. I had been sewing since I was a child and had been encouraged to start a sewing business so I could peruse my dream of being a stay at home mom (at such a time as God blessed us with children). When I first started the business I thought I would capitalize on making clothing. During my teen years I would make myself a dress or some kind of clothing every school holiday or summer vacation. Within the first several years of sewing professionally I had some requests for custom clothing, however at the end of each completed project I was left with a feeling of dissatisfaction with the finished product. At the same time I began getting an increase in alterations – prom dresses, men’s suit jackets, new zippers. As I took each piece apart I loved carefully observing how it was put together so that I could reconstruct it back to the original state after the alteration. Often clients were bringing me pieces that they felt horrible in because the clothing was so ill fitting and it was with great satisfaction that I saw them in my finished work which fit perfectly for them!
My strength here was my analytical brain and my desire to help people. I found that I could be more helpful altering their current articles of clothing than I could be in making them new pieces.
For a while I focused on my weakness. I spoke to myself negatively saying “I just need to study clothing construction more, I just need more practice, maybe I am just in the wrong line of work.” I remember the feelings of anxiety and depression that clouded my thoughts concerning my work. Read More→
Most would agree that we need to be spiritually, physically and emotionally healthy to live our lives to the fullest extent.
How do you build health physically? You work out and watch your diet right?
Some of us have health tendencies or weaknesses that come to us through our family line so we have to be aware of those tendencies. Perhaps this is a little extra weight, high blood pressure, or a fragile heart. Whatever it is- the wise thing to do is to pay attention to these things and to work to take care of a problem before it gets worse.
In the same manner how do you build spiritual health? Reading the Word, having quiet time with the Lord, prayer, fellowship with other believers, a heart of thanksgiving. Some of us may struggle with one area more than another and that takes more work. But in order to maintain spiritual growth it has to be a conscious effort of drawing close to the Lord and seeking fellowship with Him continually.
Since it takes work to cultivate physical and spiritual health, don’t you think it also takes work to cultivate mental/emotional health. Too often we give excuses for why we worry, why we dwell in negative thought patterns, and struggle with healthy relationships. There is nothing wrong with admitting that we have trouble in these areas, the problem comes when we condone this and do nothing to change. (Which is true both physically and spiritually as well – if you are obese and continue eating the wrong things, the problem will only grow worse)
We are wired in such a way that when we are unhealthy in one area (whether it be emotionally, physically or spiritually) our whole body is affected. Take worry for instance – the physical consequences could be high blood pressure and the spiritual consequences are the inability to trust God, which keeps us from enjoying fellowship with Him.
God designed us each differently with unique temperaments and family backgrounds so some of us have a greater tendency towards emotional/mental problems. Dr. Frederick Diblasio explains that just like some are born with the learning disorder of dyslexia, others have emotional and interpersonal dyslexia1. In both cases there is hope, but in both cases it takes work. Read More→
If you are like me, sometimes you think about 10 different things at once. At the breakfast table I find myself thinking through my work projects, the kids school work, the dishwasher that isn’t unloaded yet, the laundry that needs to be carried downstairs, and then I recall the email I didn’t respond to from a client with a complicated sewing question.
I get up to grab the iPad to respond to the email but in the midst of it realize all the clean cups are in the dishwasher so one task gets interrupted for another, leaving neither complete. What frustration!
As wives, mothers and business owners we have become so good at multitasking but what does it cost us at times? Does it cost the enjoyment of the present moment? Are our minds too busy to rest in the beauty of the now?
God has been showing me that this is not an effective way to let my brain operate. When I let my thoughts skip from one task to another nothing ever has my full attention.
This isn’t productive for several reasons:
- My energy is not 100% focused in one place
- I’m not engaging with my kids at a time when they are available, because when I am with them often my thoughts are elsewhere.
- I stress myself about something that I can’t even work on right that moment – meaning that in the present I am preoccupied with a problem of the future.
See sometimes my thoughts are really in the form of worry. I feel like if I don’t hold onto all of them then I have lost control of those areas for the moment. And what would happen if I let go? Maybe I would forget to do them later?
How can we discipline our minds to engage in the present? Read More→