Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Stop Settling for Counterfeit Love

While pregnant with my second child, I had to stop wearing my engagement ring and wedding band because my fingers were too swollen.  I felt bad not wearing it, but I also didn’t want to spend a bunch of money to replace the ones that were just too small. After all, I was going to be back in the originals after I had that baby, right? (haha) 

Finally, it just felt too weird not wearing a ring, so my husband got online and ordered a shiny, new, temporary ring. The cost?  $4.00 shipped. 

After about seven years of wearing that ring (yes, you read that right...seven years), it lost one of its fake diamonds, so we bought a replacement. The cost was around $5.00. Inflation, I guess.

My current counterfeit ring and its cheap predecessor have been the symbol of my marriage for the last eight years. When people look at it, they assume it’s a ring of real diamonds. It sparkles and shines. It's beautiful in its simplicity. 

But it is an impostor for the real thing.

Many of the lies we believe about ourselves, the lies the world tells, and the things we use to fill our days and our hearts are cheap imitations for the love that only God can provide. The world's love is fleeting, it is fake, it is self-serving, and it is imperfect. Why do we keep trying to fill ourselves with this empty love? We can try all we want to replace His perfect love with counterfeits, but we will keep thirsting for what only the Living Water can quench. 

Let’s reflect on some truths about His perfect love.

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. 

 But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved.

The enemy tells us we have to work for love.  He tells us we have to love ourselves more, push our own agendas, or focus on our external beauty rather than our spiritual health.  But God loved us while we were still sinners. 

You matter.  

You have dignity because you are an image bearer of God. 

There is nothing you have to work for or prove; you just have to follow Him.

Today we need to accept that He is sovereign and He loves us. His love is perfect and unchanging. We have to take care of each other and we have to speak truth to ourselves and into the lives of the women around us. 

Stop settling for counterfeit love and run to the One who loves perfectly. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

If Life is Feeling Too Busy, Here are 6 Ways to Practice Self-Care.

If you came here looking for aromatherapy and bubble baths, you’re in the wrong place.

Practicing self-care is more than just pampering.  It’s learning to take control of situations, being more organized to keep life more calm, and realizing it might be time to ask for help.

This time last year, I felt like I was just surviving.  Working in an emotionally taxing job, keeping up with my duties as a wife and mom, and having additional commitments in various ministries was starting to wear me down.


“Wear me down” is too soft of a description. If I’m honest, a better way to describe my life is that I was feeling run over. By a truck. A really, really big truck.

I had to figure out a way to get myself together before the candles I was burning at both ends burned me along with them.

Here are some of the ways I learned to stay sane.

1. Stop the mess before it completely takes over

In college, I learned this really interesting concept called entropy that has stuck with me because I  see it everywhere.  Entropy is the idea that everything will gradually decline from order to disorder. I clean off the island and later that day, someone has put a small pile of homework papers.  It’s okay though, that’ll be easy to clean up later, right?  Then someone puts the mail there and a plate and then an empty box of cereal and before I know it, I can’t even see the surface anymore.  It's chaos. That’s entropy, my friends.

Have you ever heard the saying about eating an elephant?

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.  

Or more specifically, a little bit every day.  If my family spends 10 minutes a day picking up before bed, we can combat the mess that is sure to multiply if it is ignored. Then, when those surfaces are clean, there are no random socks in the floor, and the dishes are in the dishwasher and not in the sink/on the counter/on the island, and I can relax in my chair and read a book. 

What’s one thing you can do every day to keep a mess from getting out of control?

2. Make it a team effort

I admit I like certain things done in a certain way. Maybe you can relate. The problem with wanting to control the situation is that I try to do everything myself, which in turn makes me feel overwhelmed. That’s not good self-care.

It’s time to take some of that load and responsibility and pass it around to the other people living under your roof.  Assign chores, tasks, responsibilities, jobs, or whatever you want to call them.  Hey, they help make those messes, the least they can do is help clean them up.

How can you make this work at your house?

3. Prep in advance

Here’s a taste of what life used to sound like every morning before school.

“Mom, I can’t find any clean underwear.”

“It’s in your drawer.”

“No it’s not!”

“Yes, it is. *sigh* I’m coming in there.”

You get the picture. Basically, things existed in my house, but no one could ever find them. These conversations drove me crazy!

This past summer, I knew I wanted the new school year to go differently so I came up with a plan. Although it hasn’t been perfect, it’s been really great at making mornings less chaotic.

Every Sunday after church, I sit in front of the television and fold all the laundry.  I start a load of one kid’s, then the other kid’s, then the parent laundry, followed by towels and bedding. I watch television which allows me to relax while I do this mindless task.  

As I fold, I make outfit piles for each kid, including underwear and socks, and put each outfit in a hanging cubby hole in each kid’s closet. They choose an outfit from the cubby, in no particular order, every morning before school. 

Let me tell you, it has made my mornings smoother. It is so nice to get in my car and head to work not feeling frazzled and stressed. Calmer mornings are worth the marathon laundry/television sessions on Sunday afternoon.

What is one way you can prepare to eliminate some of the stress in your life?

4. Have a day of rest

Saturday is usually the calmest day of my week.  I do my best on this day to make sure I’m recharging my batteries. I sleep in, enjoy a cup of coffee or two (or three), and enjoy a good book. 

If I do have to leave the house, I spend a little extra time taking care of myself.  This is when I take a long, relaxing shower, do a body scrub, and deep condition my hair.  Saturday is a day of rest, but it’s also a day of pampering. A good portion of my life is spent taking care of others, so it’s important for me to take a day of rest because it keeps me more physically and mentally healthy.

Do you make time for rest?

5. Be healthier

I’m at the age where my back hurts for no reason and my ankle knows when rain is coming. 

I’ve come to terms with the fact I’m getting older and my gray hair can prove it. My health needs to be a priority. I take multivitamins, pre and probiotics, and elderberry gummies. I wear a watch that tracks my steps and I try to be good about drinking water.  I also try to get in some exercise.  

Recently my husband and I found a punching bag on sale at the sporting goods store so we bought it and put it in the basement. I have pink boxing gloves and I built the perfect playlist for getting my frustrations out/getting exercise. It’s awesome.

What can you do to create a healthier lifestyle?

6. Do it anyway

I love to stay up late and read. It’s my favorite. Do you know what’s not my favorite? Feeling terrible the next day because I stayed up late to read. I don’t want to go to bed at a decent time, but I do it anyway. 

Sometimes I want to veg out in front of the television and not have to think about anything, but I also need to spend time with the Lord and read my bible.  I want to do nothing, but tending to my relationship with God is the better choice.  I never regret that time.

I don’t always want to eat healthy, but I do it anyway.

I don’t always want to get up a little earlier to make the mornings smoother, but I do it anyway.

Sometimes, I don’t want to give up my Saturday night to hang out with friends, but I do it anyway.

Self-care isn’t always saying no to things. Often taking care of yourself means saying yes to things that are good for you. Even if you don’t always feel like doing it, do it anyway.

What is something good for you that you should start doing?

Taking care of yourself is essential because when you take care of yourself, you can be a better friend, worker, and family member, and you can be better at loving those around you.

What is one change you can make today to practice self-care?