Ten Ways to be More Grateful

I love Thanksgiving. It’s one of my favorite holidays. Spending time with family and reflecting on God’s blessings brings me joy, laughter, and a feeling of gratitude. Plus, I eat yummy food all day without worrying about the calories going into my body. Free pass… calories don’t count!

But you don’t need to wait until Thanksgiving to be grateful. You can make it a part of your daily life. Here are some ideas to express and feel gratitude.

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Turn Pain Into Power

Not one of us escapes pain living in this world. Experiencing trauma, pain, disappointment, and loss is a part of being human. It’s inevitable.

When you’re in swirling in chaos and being swallowed by darkness, it’s hard to understand you will get through to the other side. It seems too impossible to comprehend or believe one day your pain will go away and happiness will appear.

But no matter difficult things are, you always have a choice. This pain you are experiencing is bringing you to a crossroad.

You can take the road to the left and walk the path of resentment, self-destruction, and victimization.

Or you can take the road to the right and walk the path of healing, empowerment, and transformation.

The choice is yours.

Lost, But Never Gone

For the past few months, I’ve been feeling…lost. My sense of who I am vanished making me a stranger to myself. I thought I knew who I was moving forward in a specific direction towards my goals. But then out of nowhere, I was thrown way off path leaving me disorientated, unsettled and bewildered.

Have you ever felt lost and out of touch with yourself? Have you felt you were on the “right” path but then suddenly went astray moving into unknown territory? You knew for sure where you were going and where you were headed but unexpectedly, you veered way off course.

It’s unnerving and upsetting being lost in a chaotic and distressed world. Especially when you thought you knew where you were going. The notion to choose our destination and stay on track no matter what is drilled into us. Don’t get distracted. Don’t move your eyes from the prize. And heaven forbid, don’t look backwards. You are expected to keep driving down the road you started on at all costs. 

Discover the Joys in Difficult Times

This is a very difficult year for many. Maybe one of the hardest. No doubt. We are all suffering from constant trauma, crushing stress and debilitating fatigue without much respite from the daily challenges we face. For me, I have trouble sleeping at night thinking about the division, hate, sickness, the suffering of others, climate change and the civil unrest in this country and worldwide. 

But in the midst of troubling times, there are gleams of light shining through muckiness revealing the joys hidden underneath. It takes intentional effort to see the goodness when all things seem dark and dreary. I know I find it extremely difficult to be positive and to see the limitless sky beyond the raging storm.

Don’t Feel Bad for Saying No

I have a problem.

I have trouble saying no.

And when I do say no, I feel bad.

Then I obsess over and over about being a bad person for saying no.

But when I say yes to something I don’t want to do or don’t have time for; I berate myself for not saying no. 

With all this ridiculousness and mental nonsense going on in my brain, I had an aha moment.

I should never feel bad again for saying no to something if it’s not a priority, if I don’t have time, if I don’t have the energy or if it’s not aligned with our current goals. Saying no when the situation isn’t right, is healthy for my well-being and inner peace. 

But even with my mind-shattering aha moment, I still apologize for saying no like I did something wrong or need permission to choose what to do or not to do in my life. 

I know! Crazy, right?

Do you struggle with the same thing? Do you feel like a jerk for saying no when your heart says yes? If so, why the heck do we do this to ourselves?

  • Fear of making someone mad, upset or disappointed
  • Fear of losing out on an opportunity
  • Fear of hurting someone’s feelings
  • Fear of being perceived as unhelpful or rude
  • Because we are people pleasers
  • Because we’ve always done that thing in the past
  • Because it’s expected of us

But these reasons are phooey, rubbish and pieces of junk. Saying yes when our hearts say no leads to resentment, frustration, stress and burn out. Neglecting self-care, family time and the space to pause are vital for a joyful and peaceful life. 

Yes, there are times to sacrifice when someone really needs your help. But on a regular basis, saying no and setting boundaries creates the space you need to expand your creativity, deepen your faith, to serve in areas most meaningful to you and to be present with your loved ones. 

When you feel bad for saying no, investigate yourself and ask these questions:

  • Why do I feel guilty for wanting self-care?
  • Am I really feeling guilty or not confident about my decisions?
  • Am I imagining others being upset with me or is it really true?
  • Am I afraid to be who I really am in front of others?
  • Am I afraid of confrontation?

For your family and for yourself, the best thing to do is to create healthy boundaries and sticking to them. Saying no and setting boundaries is hard at first. If you’re not used to it, you’ll feel mean and rude. I know I am still working on it. It feels weird, and I feel like a jerk!

But once you get over this initial hump, you’ll feel empowered and free. It will feel healthy instead of feeling oppressed with another weight added to your to-do list. 

When you say no, you are saying:

  • Yes, to honor what’s most important.
  • Yes, to allow the time to be creative.
  • Yes, to make family time a priority.
  • Yes, to have the space to heal and relax. 
  • Yes, to focus on my passions and goals.

One of the best decisions to make, is learning the power of saying no… and not feeling bad about it. You’ll be in charge in your life with the confidence to make the right choices regardless of what anyone thinks. If you want to live your best, harness the power of saying no. 

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Unsubscribe

For 2020, I want you to unsubscribe. What??? (not from me of course lol). I am asking you, including myself, to unsubscribe from all thoughts, actions, commitments, or activities holding you back from living in peace, vitality and joy. 

Unsubscribe yourself from:

  1. Feelings of unworthiness
  2. Toxic relationships draining your energy
  3. Thinking you’re not good enough
  4. Trying to control everything 
  5. Overcommitting and filling your plate too high
  6. Not saying no
  7. Eating unhealthy foods and not taking care of your body
  8. Not getting enough sleep
  9. Allowing others to take advantage of you because you’re nice and generous
  10. Being a people pleaser instead of a God pleaser
  11. Spending too much time on social media
  12. Making excuses for not doing what you love
  13. Comparing yourself to others. We are all unique and special created by God.
  14. Not spending enough time with family and friends
  15. Negative self-talk
  16. Watching too much TV
  17. Not having the courage to be yourself
  18. Being too serious
  19. Worry, fear and doubt
  20. Trying to be perfect
  21. Clutter and obsessing over material things
  22. Whining and complaining
  23. Living in the past
  24. Giving up when things get too hard
  25. Not believing in yourself to accomplish your dreams
  26. Being a victim
  27. Drama
  28. Settling for less
  29. Playing it safe
  30. Not forgiving

Subscribe to things bringing you joy, peace, energy and love. Fill your mind with books, music, entertainment and articles to grow your consciousness. Nourish your soul with prayer, meditation, creativity and spending time in nature to embrace your true essence. Feed your body with healthy foods and activities to thrive with vibrant energy. 

Let go and release yourself from all the junk and crap holding you back from the life you deserve. You only have one given to you by God. Not it’s time to really start living your life with meaning, love, passion and purpose to be all you are meant to be.

Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

I’m a “Bad” Christian

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
Ephesians 2:8

I woke up late and didn’t do my prayer time today…I must be a bad Christian.

I’m a divorced, single parent with a rough past…I must not be suitable for church leadership.

I overreacted and yelled at my son after a stressful day …I must be an impatient and unloving Christian.

I have Madonna on my Spotify playlist and watch Outlanders on Starz TV… I must be a wicked Christian.

I worry about my future and afraid of what lies ahead of me…I must be an unfaithful Christian.

I don’t earn enough income to give as much as I want to… I must not be a generous Christian.

When I read the Bible, I don’t always understand or want to challenge the words written… I must be a disobedient Christian.

Some Sundays, I want to sleep in instead of going to church but with a grudge, I go anyway. Shouldn’t I be a cheerful church attendee?

I drank one more glass of wine than I should have. I must be too wild to be a Christian.

I don’t fall into the picture-perfect Christian woman model who’s supposed to feminine, modest, meek and who wears pink, flowery dresses. Instead, I prefer to kick, punch and throw in martial arts class, wear black and listen to rock music. I must be a bad Christian woman.

I don’t always seek God first for answers but instead complain to my friends and family about my problems. I must not trust God enough to be a good Christian.

I believe women have a right to Church leadership, people are free to choose who to love and everyone has a right to choose their religion. I must be heretical Christian.

Every day I feel I fail being the picture perfect, cookie-cutter Christian “model”. Maybe I’m too hard on myself or maybe it’s true I’m not disciplined or obedient enough. But aren’t we all both good and bad Christians at once taking two steps forward, one step back? Who are trying to impress anyway…our fellow church members and society? Or the one who matters most… our God the Father Almighty. 

To be honest, I have no desire to be the picture perfect, cookie-cutter Christian “model”. I desire to be the woman God made me to be. Nothing more, nothing less. I can only fit in the mold crafted by God for me to embody. Not the mold built by expectations of others and my false sense of self

And when I do make mistakes, I still come back to the feet of Jesus trying to do better and be better. But within the space of feeling unworthy comes acceptance. God accepts me as I am right now. God accepts all of us as we are right now. Not the “perfect” Christian model but as the messy imperfect humans we are.

Yes, God wants us to grow our character, learn from our transgressions and be more loving towards others. But along this spiritual journey, He loves us know matter where we are at in life. All the things that make us a “bad” Christian are the negative constructs of our mind trying to pull us away from the one true faith that saved us.

That truth is we don’t earn our salvation or do good works to qualify getting into heaven. It’s given to us by grace through the love of Jesus Christ. All we need to do is accept Him in our hearts and love him with every fabric of our being. It’s that simple.

Good Christian, Bad Christian…whatever you think you are, at the end of the day giving your heart, mind and soul to Jesus with God at the center of your life surrendering to His will, is the true meaning of being a “Good” Christian.

Creativity is Good for the Soul

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.” 
— Dieter F. Uchtdorf 

Creativity has been a part of my life for as long as I remember. As a child I drew pictures, wrote short stories, recreated my favorite logos and sketched fashion design. I loved being creative. It was an escape into another world allowing me to explore new adventures and visit unchartered territories. 

I still love being creative. It’s safe to say I was destined to be the writer and graphic designer I am today using my creative abilities on a daily basis. 

My lifelong journey of being immersed in creative endeavors has showed me the value of creativity and how essential it is for the soul. When I am not creating, I get depressed. When I create, I feel alive. Creativity allows the space and time to connect to my true self with a sense of intimacy and meaning.

But what is creativity? Creativity is an activity that solves a problem. It’s the process of coming up with new ideas by making connections between concepts and unrelated things. You learn to see patterns across different mediums to read between the lines. Creativity takes your ideas and imagination bringing your dreams and vision to life with form, function and beauty.

The great truth about being creative is that anyone can do it. You don’t need to be an art genius like Picasso, Mozart or Leonardo Da Vinci. I don’t even come close their talents, but I still choose to create every day. You only need to give yourself permission and the time to develop your abilities.

God wants you to be creative because He is the source of all creation. Creativity opens your heart and mind allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you for inspiration and intuition. When God nudges you to create something, trust this. It’s His way of speaking to you making creativity a form of prayer and communion. It’s your opportunity to create something special for His glory and to heal your soul.

God wants you to express yourself in beauty, originality and authenticity. Creating is a method of communication for your soul to speak to yourself and to the world with your own unique voice. It helps you to learn who you are, the depths of your heart and the talents you possess. 

When you take the time to create, it allows you to be with yourself in solitude, peace and joy. It challenges you to try new things and overcome obstacles when things get difficult. When you create, it feels like time ceases to exist because you get lost in the moment being connected to God and your creation. 

Sometimes we stunt our creativity by doubting ourselves, setting unrealistic expectations, believing it’s a waste of time or thinking we don’t deserve to spend time being creative. No matter what the excuses are, let them go. Give your soul a chance the thrive and become alive with the spirit and energy of creativity. 

Some might say, I don’t have time to be creative. But you can always find time if you really want to. Instead spending an hour on Facebook, surfing online or gossiping on the phone, trade it with an hour of writing, drawing, painting, sculpting or taking photographs. Maybe let that load of laundry sit for a bit longer or do the dishes tomorrow morning. You can practice your creative skills by being creative with your time management.

Start with 20 minutes day. Over time, 20 minutes will turn into 30 minutes then 60 minutes. You’ll get into a groove making it easy to add more time. Once you feel the benefits of being creative and start to gain more confidence, adding more time will happen organically. 

God is calling you to create using your unique talents and abilities to bring more beauty and light into the world. Something you create might seem nothing to you but to someone else be a source of healing and joy. Your soul is begging for your creative heart and mind to awaken and become all who you are meant to be, to experience and to give. 

So get up and start creating today!

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:10-13

I recite Philippians 4:13, I can do all this through him who gives me strength, many times throughout my Christian life. It’s my go to scripture when my own energy is failing and need help from God for strength, energy and courage to get through whatever it is I am going through.

The Apostle Paul wrote this scripture during one of his most difficult and fearful times in his life. But yet, he still found contentment and equanimity through the strength of Christ with unwavering trust in God even while facing pain and death. This is a true inspiration for us living in today’s world to remain faithful in Christ as we encounter the stresses and trials of our modern lives.

I admit I find it hard to be content when I run out of money for the month, the days my chronic health issues take hold, deadlines looming at work, being overwhelmed with household and family responsibilities and when I am scared of what the future holds. 

But even during my hard times, I have Christ to turn to 24/7. Christ gives us the courage to face our fears and walk with confidence to persevere during challenging situations. When we are afraid, Jesus is our guide leading us through the dark, scary moments to move forward with fortitude and ease. He stands by our side while holding us close making sure we don’t face our difficulties alone.

 When we turn to Christ for strength, it’s rooted deep in our hearts with a strong connection to God. We are being fed strength from the Lord instead pulling from our limited resources. The Holy Spirit penetrates through our souls giving us the grit and endurance to become spiritual warriors and be victorious in our battles both internal and external.  

Christ has the ability to keep us calm, centered and grounded to respond with a cool head and a warm heart instead of overreacting in anger and bitterness. Reminding ourselves God is sovereign and in control, we can surrender to the process and trusting He will take care of the outcome. 

Learning contentment is key to living a life of joy and peace. Paul was content, joyful and grateful while being chained to a Roman prison guard in jail. This was possible because Paul trusted God had a plan for his life and knew Christ was living deep within his heart, mind and soul.

By focusing on what really matters and being grateful for what we have, we can learn to be content no matter what circumstances we face. Putting our hearts and minds in Christ creates a deep sense of hope and meaning making all the other crap we’re dealing with small in comparison.

Undeserved grace and the love of God brings peace like a warm blanket protecting us from the harsh cold days. Surrendering to the will of God and His purpose for us helps to see the bigger picture and beyond the present situation.  

When we understand this truth deep in our bones, we can face anything. Because God so loved the world and gave His only son to die for us, we have everything we need right now for joy, peace and contentment.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

The Quiet Power of Humility

“As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself…Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, and humility.”
– Nelson Mandela

Humility is a beautiful but lost virtue in today’s power seeking, narcissistic world. Harnessing the quiet power of humility is not something people readily seek out or learn.

With our culture placing tremendous value on worldly things such as fame, awards and accolades, notoriety, and outward appearances, humility gets lost in the sea drowned by the noise of egoistical desires. 

It’s not the favorite virtue to seek because humility requires us to be honest with our faults and to own up to our mistakes. But in the end, having humility is the path to joy and fulfillment by looking deeply within and taking the rights steps to improve.

People with humility take responsibility for their lives, are open to other’s suggestions, ideas and perceptions and have a self-controlled view of their skills, talents and abilities. They are happier because they live simply and know what really matters in their lives.

Being humble means knowing there’s a greater power working beyond ourselves and our own understanding. To accomplish our dreams and our heart’s desire, we need to surrender to God’s power knowing we can’t do this on our own. 

We need help, guidance, grace and strength to carry us through. We have to trust He will guide us through our journey, and He is in control. We are along for the ride and if we choose the right car to get in, we will arrive at the right destination in God’s time.

Here are some other ways humility is an important virtue to learn and harness. 

Humility is a Quiet Strong: 
Sometimes humility is perceived as a weakness. But in reality, it’s the opposite. To be humble is to be strong. 

quiet strong. 

This type of quiet strength doesn’t need a loud speaker, a boisterous voice or the need to shout on a mountaintop. Humility is a strength that’s gentle, kind, nonjudgmental and the willingness to be of service to others.

Being humble relies on truth no matter how painful it is or how difficult it is to face our shortcomings and mistakes. It’s easier to push our suffering aside and ignore the faults we harbor. 

It takes great strength and wisdom to see our truth as it is unfiltered and raw. When we see our truth head on, we bow down to it with great honor and reverence encouraging us to change and become a better person. 

Humility Shows We are Human:
Being humble allows us to accept failures and mistakes with a deep understanding we are all human and one way or another we’ll make mistakes.

People with humility are able to handle failures because they don’t tie their accomplishments to their self-worth. Mistakes and accomplishments don’t define us. They are not who we are but only what we’ve done.

We are spiritual beings having a physical experience, so our self-worth is much more than the labels we own, the materials we possess, our corporate status or how many likes we get on Facebook. Humility knows we are deep souls and our lives meant to live with a higher calling and purpose.

Humility Opens the Door to Learning: 
No matter how much we know, there’s always more to learn. No matter how much an expert we are in something, there’s always someone who knows more than we do. 

To learn, we need an empty cup to fill more knowledge and wisdom. If we are overflowing with our egoistical views of ourselves, there’s no room to add anything of value and meaning. We stunt our personal growth and spiritual development.

But with humility, we open the door wide to expand our consciousness to gain a deeper understanding of life while simultaneously knowing we can never stop learning.  

Humility Teaches Compassion and Patience:
Being humble with an open heart unlocks the door to compassion. With humility we cultivate empathy, patience and tolerance towards one another.

Once we accept we are in a constant state of learning and growing, we see others with grace and mercy. We are no better than them and they are no better than us We are all learning and growing together.

It’s easy to comfortable around someone who is humble because we are free to be who we are. We don’t fear being judged or criticized because the humble ones don’t feel or act better than us. They understand when we make mistakes and are willing to hold our hand when we get back up.

Humility relieves the pressure of always needing to be on top. It’s exhausting to portray perfection and trying to perform at our best in every waking moment. 

But with our humble humanity we know perfection is not possible. Once we embrace and surrender to this truth, we can find peace. In this place of honest humility and integrity, we become servants of the world on a mission to spread love and help our fellow humans to bring out the best within each other. 

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash