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Care and Keeping of a Heart

Care and Keeping of a Heart

In this final reflection on heart, I want to talk about how we can care for our hearts, keeping them whole and hearty in fighting shape, ready for whatever life might send our way. 

Here are a few ideas to help you care for your heart in a way that will open it, strengthen it, and prepare it for battle.

Feed your heart good food. 

Your heart craves consolation, inspiration, and peace. I don’t think it’s necessary to live in a dream world, but I do think it’s necessary to consume more of the Bible then of the news every day if we want to keep our heart healthy. There are awful things happening all the time that we need to not shut our eyes to, but just because those things are real doesn’t make the truth of the Bible any less so. 

I’ve met so many people in my life who felt that it was extremely virtuous to constantly bathe in the sewage of negative news on every front in the globe because those things were “real life.” They thought that by constantly allowing themselves to be washed over by the barrage of awfulness in the world but they were somehow better, that their perspective was “realer” than people who spent much less time consuming the news. 

But the Bible is just as real as anything you read in the news. Christ is just as real as the presidents and politicians you read about every day. And reading your Bible and other uplifting Christian works helps lay layers of stone under your feet instead of negativity and terror that rips around you like a terrible current, constantly threatening to uproot you and carry you away.

Moral of the story? Just because there is bad in the world, that’s not all there is. There is good as well and in much greater measure than evil. Staying tethered to the good doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong.

Get to know yourself. 

Isn’t it crazy how little we actually know ourselves? I’m constantly surprised how often my husband knows better than me what I will do or think in a given situation. 

But there is one person who knows us perfectly, and that is God. I think it’s cool that God desires to teach us about ourselves so that we can live with more of our heart and have clarity about where and how we can best do his will. 

And so instead of filling out lists and becoming more self-centered in thinking only of ourselves, I think we get to know ourselves best through prayer and journaling when we allow God to write with us. 

Open yourself to letting God teach you more about yourself. I think it might surprise you.

Practice being brave in the smallest of ways. 

Be a little bit brave with things that don’t matter so that when back opportunities to be brave arise those muscles have a little bit of tone to them. 

  • Wear something that you love but don’t necessarily think is in your comfort zone. 
  • Try a restaurant that doesn’t have any of your tried-and-true favorites on the menu. 
  • Call out your friend who is bad mouthing herself and ask her to speak more kindly about herself as a daughter of God. 

We’re not talking big things here. 

But we are talking things that help you show up with all of yourself so that when your day in the arena comes, you have all of yourself to bring to the fight.

I have a quote on my mantle that says “Your heart is the size of a fist because you need it to fight.“ I really love that. I love that it takes a gentle and integrated heart to be strong, because the heart of stone that may seem like an asset will actually just shatter when there is any pressure placed upon it.

Forgive over and over again. Practice forgiving.

Nothing eats away at your heart quite like grudges and unforgiveness. It is impossible to be whole when we have rented out swathes of our heart to old hurts and broken promises. 

But it’s so hard to evict those renters that seem to have so much claim to the real estate.

Forgiving isn’t pretending you weren’t hurt. It is letting the hurt wash over you like a waterfall, feeling it sting every inch of your skin and then having the courage to step forward, into the dark perhaps, but out of the stream. Often we feel rooted to the spot, paralyzed by the pain and the intensity, but there are hands there for us to grasp when we need help moving out of the stream. 

God’s hands are there. 

Sometimes God’s hands look like the hands of counselors, friends, and confidants and sometimes they are simply and truly the ethereal hands of God reaching out in answer to our prayers.

Either way, the hands can be hard to see in the dark unless we train our eyes. And we train our eyes through frequent practice of forgiveness. 

It takes a strong woman to live with her whole heart. But I know that you are strong because I know that God doesn’t make women any other way. In the face of the greatest hurt when we want to call uncle and surrender to the pain, God reminds us that our strength is in our heart, the heart he gave us to be soft, whole, and able to endure.

I’m praying for you and your heart this week.

With joy,

Jill

Having A Whole Heart

Having A Whole Heart

God is one – whole and indivisible. There’s no division or duplicity in God. 

What he is he has always been and always will be. He is whole. 

As Christians we are called to be like Jesus, which by extension means we are called to be like God. A holy Christian life necessarily involves integrating ourselves as much as we can, with the help of God, into one whole indivisible person, in His image. That is why what we do with our body matters. That is why what we do with our mind matters. It all matters because it is all part of the whole.

We’re not going to dig into every facet of the human whole because that’s way too much ground to cover in the time before us. But we are going to dig into the idea of integrating our hearts.

Being whole hearted is something that doesn’t get talked about too often, but I think it is essential to a peaceful Christian life. When we feel those tensions and hard spots arise in our heart it is impossible for us to remain whole. The soft fleshy parts pull away from the stony parts and we are left in anguish, torn within ourselves and against ourselves. It can feel overwhelming and impossible to overcome. 

But those hard spots we discover in our hearts are actually beautiful opportunities – invitations to open our hearts to God so that he can heal us and our hearts, allowing them to become the soft, supple hearts he desires for us through and through.

The idea of full hearted living was introduced to me by one of my perpetual favorite authors, Brené Brown, who I probably reference way too much. In her book Daring Greatly she explores the idea of living a wholehearted life which starts from a place of worthiness – believing that you are worthy to embrace your own life. I think that there is a secular way to approach this concept of worthiness and a Christian way and the latter is what I’m looking to flesh out in these reflections together. (And if the whole question of embracing “Worthiness” resonates with you just wait until you see what’s coming this summer!!)

I love the image of living with your whole heart – bringing all of yourself to your life every day. When you think about the example of holy people that you may know, or even holy people throughout history, it’s clear that that’s how they live. They showed up with all of themselves in everything that they did, holding nothing back from those around them, but ultimately not holding themselves back from God. And in turn God uses these people to work wonders in the world. 

Think about the example of Mother Teresa. She clearly lived with her whole heart – caring for people who have no one else to care for them in their dying days and hours with a love and patience that seemed endless. She came to her ministry every day with everything that God gave her – her whole heart open to the people God sent her. 

And that’s what we should seek to do as well. 

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably keeping parts of yourself back, not out of any  willful withholding, but simply out of fear. When we think of ourselves as alone – solitary entities in the world – I think it would be a little impossible not to be afraid of showing ourselves in our entirety. 

And that is why I think God is such a key element in true wholehearted living. 

How can we have confidence in ourselves simply for our own sake with no outside input without falling deeply into pride and self-centeredness? I don’t believe that we really can. 

But, we know that it is important for Christians to act with confidence, so what is left for us to do? I believe it is left to us to turn wholeheartedly to God and to believe with trust what he says about us – that we are worthy of his love and that everything he has given us is for a purpose. 

When we embrace our gifts and talents with confidence from the jumping off point of knowing God‘s love for us we are able to find the confidence we seek and live with our whole hearts. 

This month we’re going to be talking more about obstacles to that (like grudges and unforgiveness), how we can care for our hearts and stop keeping bits and pieces of ourselves separate from all the rest and embrace that kind of unity that we see in the person of God.

With joy,

Jill

Connecting Like Christ

This month we’re talking all about connection.

My whole career has been shaped by three things: the fashions I’m feeling at any given time, my relationship with God, and the Brené Brown books that I’m reading. 

Brown’s books, especially Braving the Wilderness and Dare to Lead, have radically changed my life and taught me things about connection that I don’t think I ever would’ve discovered, or perhaps at least never put words to, on my own. I think her work is deeply important for Christians to read and interact with, because she helps us with the human framework necessary to embrace the kind of freedom and wholeness that God desires for us. 

A huge part of that framework is connection. 

One of my favorite Brené Brown quotes is: 

“ I define connection as the energy that exist between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.“

Brené Brown

Too often we get caught up in the weeds of relationship with other people – they annoy us, we question their choices, and sometimes we wonder what’s in it for us. 

It can feel like a lot of work. 

But we are not able to simply get our own personal relationship with God in order and leave everyone else to it. Like the Trinity, our foundation is a triangle – the connection that exists between us and God is also balanced by connection between ourselves and other people and other people and God. 

All three legs are necessary to support a firm faith. 

We must follow the Commandments to both love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. And the starting point for loving like Christ is connection.

Christ made it a habit to eat with people. He ate with all kinds of people – the Gospel tells us at length about how much the holy ones of his day disapproved of his free and easy eating habits. But I think that this tendency to eat with people was, and remains, one of the best ways to develop connection. Sharing a meal. Entering a home. Listening to how the day has gone.

It was these every day actions and entering into them with others that provided the foundation for the connection Christ made with people that allowed him to love them in a way that radically changed their lives. 

So here’s my challenge to you – how do you let others into your every day and allow yourself to enter that every day of others so that connection can be fostered?

If that’s not a part of your every day life, how can you add that in? 

How can you invite others into your life and except the invitation to be a part of the lives of others so that you can embrace connection the way to Christ did?

Inviting Peace with Prayer and Curiosity

We’re coming to the end of our month talking about peace and I hope that these reflections have helped you reflect on where you were at with peace right now. (You can still grab the resource package right here!)

For Type A people/perfectionists like myself, reflecting on peace can be an anxiety riddled endeavor. 

Thinking about all the ways and places I don’t have peace can send me into a tailspin of even more anxiety and worry about why and what I need to do better to capture and conquer peace like it’s some kind of gold medal. 

That is, to put it bluntly, super unhelpful. 

On the contrary, peace is not something that we capture like a prize bird, but something we invite like a beloved houseguest. And that’s why I want to spend this last week talking about a few tools that you can use to both grow in peace and keep anxiety about it all at bay.

1. Curiosity 

Curiosity is one of the most helpful techniques you can keep in your arsenal of personal growth tools. Instead of panicking, getting anxious, or reverting to what is comfortable when you find yourself getting anxious about peace (or anything else you might be seeking or struggling with) you can choose to turn to curiosity instead. 

When you are curious about why you feel the way you feel, you open the door to God and yourself to move in deeper reflection that can lead to real growth. I find when I start to get that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach if I stop and literally say out loud to myself “Why am I feeling this way?“ I am way more likely to be able to move through the feeling. This question keeps anxiety from seriously derailing my day instead of letting the feeling grow and fester in my stomach until it affects my head and every other part of my body in a tidal wave of stress.

Less stress tidal waves = happier me.

2. Prayer 

I have this weird notion that prayer is where I present my solutions to God, which writing that looks pretty hilarious because it’s so clearly wrong, but when I’m going about my day in my own little Jill bubble, it feels like that’s the way I act. 

A lot of times I don’t go to prayer until I feel like I have a good option for what to do – almost like I want to provide God side of the conversation in addition to my own. But that’s not the way it supposed to work at all. We only provide our side of the conversation. We can present endless problems that we face without solutions without repercussion – that’s what it’s for. 

Prayer is where we come to let God sort things out for us – not where we sort things out for ourselves. If you were finding peace to be particularly elusive in a certain area of your life, I encourage you to keep presenting a problem to God in prayer over and over again – no matter how long it takes. 

Do you remember the story in the gospel about the woman who bothered the godless judge so much that he eventually ruled in her favor? Jesus taught that if that judge who was unjust did that, how much more would your father in heaven respond to the perseverance of his children? 

Ask God for peace. Over and over again. He is the only one that will really give it to you and you can be assured in his promises that he will provide it to you – maybe not in that moment, that day or that week, but it will come. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed turning with me in this reflection on peace this January. I find that January is a time so full of aspiration when New Year’s resolutions are ripe in our minds, it can be hard to sit in peace with where we are at right now and what we already have. 

I hope that these posts have help to you even just a little bit this month to allow God to bring you the peace he so desires to bring you.

Driving in the Fog – a Lesson in God’s Peace

The morning of my planning retreat for 2020 it was extremely foggy. I live in the city, so typically there’s not low hanging fog the way that you would expect in the country. But on this particular day there was thick white fog everywhere making visibility only about an eighth of a mile or so – you couldn’t even see a whole block in front of you. 

And so as I was driving to work that morning I was struck with a thought – there’s really only two ways to drive in fog- stressed and anxious about what it is that is out there that you can’t see or thankful for the visual quiet that allowed you to see only what you needed to see. 

When I pulled up to a stoplight I could see it clearly, as well as the other cars in the intersection. I was never in any danger. But the rest of everything that usually clogged my commute was stripped away – no billboards, no storefronts, no lights far up the road. It was just peaceful. 

So as I was driving through this fog I begin to reflect on how living the Christian life, a life entrusted to God, is so much like driving through this fog. We can only see what we need to see it any given time, but how much do I frequently let that be an impetus of fear and anxiety instead of an opportunity for deep peace – knowing, without a doubt, but I can see you what I need to see, no more, no less.

It was a peaceful revelation, but it was also a punch in the gut. 

Why was I allowing God‘s grace of only giving us the unobstructed present to be a source of such anxiety? Why could I not trust that I could see what I needed to see? 

It was so fitting that this drive was the starting point for my planning retreat for 2020. 2019 was a year decidedly marked by a lack of peace. It got so bad in the last months of the year that I begin to doubt my plan to write about peace this January because I couldn’t imagine how someone who sought peace but found it to be so elusive could ever share thoughts on it in any kind of helpful way. 

But the fog showed me that I lack peace because I haven’t really wanted it – on God’s terms. If I want to embrace it, it’s right there. God is taking care of everything – limiting my vision with the love of a father so that I need not be overwhelmed, but there I was in the midst of the fog imagining what grotesque monsters and giants could be lurking just outside the field of my vision. The peaceful place God has prepared for me had become a nightmare – stalked by the worst imaginings of my troubled heart.

I had been actively rejecting peace. It brings tears to my eyes to say that because I felt that is all I’ve been seeking, and therein lies another problem – the very hunt for peace had become yet another source of crippling anxiety for me. 

I let the anxiety about the fact that I could not find it fester and infect other parts of myself. I drove through the fog peopled with all of my worst fears, beliefs, and thoughts, putting them there myself with effort when God has already provided a small bite-size chunk of reality for me to deal with.

So now I still know that I am probably not the right person to talk to you about peace, but I think for the first time I really understand how much peace is acceptance of what God gives us in the present moment. 

And so that’s my quiet fight for 2020 – to not fill the fog with things that may or may not be there, but to live in the space that I can see because God has allowed it to be in front of me.

Here’s to embracing the peace God has for us in 2020. Let’s do it together, shall we?

shop peace:

Shopping with Gratitude this Holiday Season

Shopping with Gratitude this Holiday Season

If you’re the United States, there is a kind of disturbing trend at the end of November every year. We spend the fourth Thursday of the month (the end of this week) in gratitude and togetherness on our formal “Thanksgiving” holiday, and then spend the fourth Friday of the month shopping crazy sales on the retail holiday of Black Friday, which seems to shred every ounce of goodwill built-up the day before and make it as though none of it ever happened. 

And though I’m pretty sure that you’re not the person trampling another human being over discounted TVs, I think that the consumer spirit of the holidays affects all of us in one way or another. That’s why I think it’s worthwhile to talk about how we can take all these gratitude practices from the month of November with us into December, specifically, but also beyond.

The shift at the end of November is palpable. And even though the majority of the buying going on is for others there still is this kind of gross flavor of “gimme gimme” that permeates the whole thing. (Have you noticed that, or is that just me?)

Now, I’ll level with you. I own a retail shop. I, frankly, need people to buy Christmas presents from my shop so that my kids and my employees kids will not only have Christmas presents themselves but electricity and healthcare. I’m not here to tell you not to shop. 

But I think it’s worth thinking about how we shop and where we shop this holiday season (and I promise this still goes back to gratitude – stay with me.). 

First the how:

When you buy gifts for someone, what do you think about? Do you think about what they like? Who they are? What they do? What they’ve done for you? 

There can be a lot of considerations that go into selecting and purchasing a gift, but I want to suggest a unique way of buying your gifts this year. As you think about each person that you are buying a gift for, I would like you to think about, maybe even make a list of, all the reasons that you were grateful for that person this year. Think about how they enrich your life and why.  Then, select a gift for them from a place of gratitude for them as a person and not overwhelm or frustration at having to buy another gift. 

I think this practice can really revolutionize your personal experience of Christmas shopping this year, even if it doesn’t change what you actually get for people. Then, as an extension of the exercise I also think it’s great to include a personalized letter or note with each gift explainIng the things that you thought about while buying the gift for them and the reasons that you are grateful for them. Who wouldn’t want to receive that? 

 Next, the where

{Obviously, I’m not a disinterested third-party in this conversation but I think that there’s a really great case for shopping small not only during the holidays, but year-round.}

First of all, when you shop with a small operation, I can guarantee you that a real person feels a surge of gratitude at your order. Instead of  financing .0001% of a big company’s TV ad with your holiday purchase, you can literally pay someone’s grocery bill. There’s a lot of wonderful things the big companies have to offer but I think it really pays to look at what small options are available first. Not only will you nurture gratitude in another person’s life, but the gratitude that they feel for you will often filter through in the packaging, attention, and products that you receive. 

Secondly, when you shop small you are able to show your gratitude to a company that enriches your life in some way. If our content this year and even before has mattered to you, part of how we know is 1.) when you tell us and 2.) when you shop with us. Ultimately it is your shopping that keeps us making, writing, photographing, and supporting you all through the year.

 All in all, shopping small is a relationship built on gratitude.

Here at Pink Salt Riot we get orders out extremely fast and with free shipping because we know your time is valuable and, let’s be honest, I forget to do things until the last minute on the regular and I feel you

We also put 3 to 5 extra free goodies in every package and Jeni, our shipping coordinator, initials every packing slip to let you know that she put the personal touch on your package herself. 

We invest in bringing you content that really enriches your life year-round, not into big ads that will go viral or flashier things like that. We just want to invest in you and we humbly ask that you will invest in us and other small businesses this holiday season.

So to that end, here is our sales schedule for the weekend, no trampling involved, and you can shop from the cozy comfort of your bed instead of freezing outside at 3am. 

  • November 29- December 2: 
    • Buy More, Save More sale! (excludes sale items & Joy Box subscriptions)
    • 10% off orders over $20 with the code savemore20
    • 20% off orders over $50 with the code savemore50
    • 30% off orders over $100 with the code savemore100
    • 40% off orders over $150 with the code savemore150

We will also be including free gifts in every order (regardless of total) placed on Small Business Saturday, November 30!

Giving Tuesday, December 3: 20% of all orders will go toward Mary’s Meals, a charitable organization that provides food at schools throughout the poorest parts of the world. They are built on the principle that education is one of the most powerful agents of change and that disadvantaged kids will stay in school longer if they are able to receive a good meal there. They have one of the lowest overheads of any charity I am aware of and do phenomenal work. I would strongly encourage you to look into supporting them with any year end charitable donations you may be looking to make. 

Wherever you shop this holiday season, be it with us or someone else, I hope you shop with gratitude for all the people involved – the employees, the creators, the people you’re shopping for. Especially when time gets short and tensions run high, try and come back to gratitude. 

As always, I’m praying for you and your intentions this Thanksgiving.

With joy,

Jill