fbpx
Sustaining Hope

Sustaining Hope

So many in our culture reject the idea of hope in a large part I think because they never want to be disappointed. Because who likes to be disappointed??

We’ve all had things that we hoped for (but really just wished for) that didn’t come to pass. Relationships, promotions, opportunities, healings. In our mind our relationship with all of those things was defined by hope, but it was not the kind of hope that we’re talking about.

The kind of hope that we are talking about cannot disappoint us, though it may take our entire lives – even past this life and into the next – for those hopes to come to fruition. That’s a long time to wait. That’s a long time to keep nurturing hope with what seems like very little feedback to maintain it. 

But that’s how we approach hope from a human standpoint – something we have to sustain in the face of all kinds of things seeking to prove us wrong. 

But that’s not the reality. The reality is that hope is something we allow God to continue nurturing IN us. Said another way, it is not our hope that we are responsible for maintaining, but simply the relationship with God that feeds our hope. 

It reminds me of marriage. In a marriage, it’s not your job to make yourself continuously feel love for your spouse, but it is your job to maintain the relationship with with your spouse that creates fertile ground for love to keep blossoming. 

It seems terrifying to think that you have to keep a white-knuckled grip on love and if it ever slips away then it’s all over. Who can deal with that pressure? What about your bad days? Quickly the whole thing because Anxiety Fest 2020. But it’s much less daunting to simply remember that you need to talk to your spouse every day. Find out about their day. Maybe make a few small efforts to speak to them in their native love language. 

That we can do. 

That requires a little bit of us, and not more than we can handle. It’s the same way with God. We don’t have to keep a white knuckled grip on all these strands of faith and hope and all the other virtues, praying that we don’t let one slip out of our grasp, vanishing to the sea to never be recovered again. We simply have to talk to our beloved Father every day. Share our day with him. Let him love us and return right praise To him. 

Hope it’s a gift from God that he will continue to give as long as we keep the relationship with the Giver open.

With joy!

Jill

 

Our God Knows Suffering

Our God Knows Suffering

Do you feel like you’re living with a broken heart? 

If you feel that way, it’s probably pretty hard to show up to your life feeling whole hearted. 

It’s probably downright impossible. 

So that’s where Jesus comes in. 

Jesus does not desire for us to stay in darkness and suffering, but called us into his resurrection with him. But he is also the same Jesus that hung on the cross so we know that he knows everything there is to know about a broken heart. 

As he hung on the cross I can only imagine the way his heart broke thinking of all the sin, death, and destruction that had been and would ever be, all perched squarely on his shoulders as he died for the sins of the world. 

We have a God that knows what it is to suffer. 

But we also have a God that does not desire for us to stay there. 

Good Friday is not the end of the story. It is a brief but necessary part of the story that ultimately leads to Easter morning glory. Your broken heart, no matter what it might be broken for, is your little taste of good Friday. But God desires to bring you in to Easter morning with him. It likely will not be a 48 hour process like it was for God Incarnate, but you can live in hope that it will happen. 

God is the lover of our souls and the healer of our hearts. He will not abandon us to despair. 

So how’s your heart today? What part of your heart is hurting and how can you invite God into that hurt?

With joy,

Jill

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.

Following Peace

 

 

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got in college was to “follow peace”.

If I didn’t have peace about the decision I needed to hold off. 

I was told that God‘s will brings peace and so to some extent, although not infallible, we can use the sense of peace we have about things as a kind of barometer for whether or not it’s in keeping with God‘s plan for us.

Now, take that with a grain of salt because there have been many things in my life where it felt like there wasn’t peace in either option, the peace came instead with the decision making. 

There’s not always a hidden right answer – God is not a game show host with doors that alternatively hide our deepest desires or a pit of fire. He’s not sitting up in the clouds (like I think some atheists imagine we believe he must be) getting ready to zap us if we choose the wrong thing. There are many choices in our lives where God is happy to work through whatever we choose and we can have peace in our decisions knowing that the Scriptures will be fulfilled in us – God will work all things together for good for those who love and serve him. 

Ultimately, that’s where the peace comes from.

It’s not necessarily in making the right choice every time with a perfect record – it comes from trusting that God will do what he said he would. 

I’m finding this January to be a wonderful time to reassess whether or not I really and truly trust in God. Our holiday season here at the shop was not quite what I had hoped it would be. I had bigger goals and grander plans. When they did not come to pass it was a true opportunity to reflect on whether or not 1.) I really did have peace about running this company and 2.) did I really trust that God would provide for my family and the way he said he would. 

So I invite you to reflect on your own life – where do you not feel peace? Do you really trust God with that area of your life? 

If you’re anything like me, those areas that are our biggest sources of anxiety are likely the things that we’re kind of keeping off to the side for ourselves to deal with and not allowing God to be in control of.

But we can trust him. 

He is the only one truly and endlessly worthy of our trust. 

I invite you to give those areas of anxiety to God this week.

Daily Gratitude Habits

Daily Gratitude Habits

What does it look like to live a grateful life? There’s the stereotypical, happy all the time, say hello to the caterpillars on the sidewalk, movie version of contented thankful living, and then there’s reality. 

Grateful people still get grumpy. Grateful people can still struggle.

Gratitude isn’t a magic bullet, but it’s a wonderful tool for rearranging our priorities and helping us grow closer to God and other people by appreciating them as they should be appreciated. 

Here are five ways that you can live gratitude every day:

Turn jealousy on its head and be grateful instead of envious. 

We’re just gonna jump right into the thick of things here. This is hard. This is really, really hard. But I think that one of the most powerful ways we can live gratitude on a daily basis is using gratitude intentionally as a tool in the fight against comparison. 

When we see someone else doing something incredible or looking amazing or creating something beautiful, whatever the case might be, instead of turning into jealousy, we can offer a short prayer of gratitude for the wonderful work of God and others on display

It might take a while before this feels organic (maybe a long, long while). But it’s still worthwhile to muscle down the jealousy that you might actually feel and say a short gratitude prayer instead. This is a modified “fake it till you make it situation” – my signature “pray like you mean it until you do” spin move. The more times you override your jealousy instinct with gratitude the easier it will become and the more natural it will be to turn to gratitude in these kind of situations. (This is totally preaching to myself x 1,000,000)

Appreciate boring things. 

Kids are so good at this. 

My son is so fascinated with science that he is constantly launching all kinds of facts at me about how many atoms are in things and the molecular structure of things that absorb water. Even boring things are actually really cool, because God designed every aspect of these things. It’s an amazing practice to sit and be thankful for air, and light, and gravity, and the world itself. When I wake up super frazzled, or let’s be honest, it’s my kids who wake me up which makes me super frazzled, I try and find five minutes to do this in the first part of the morning so that I can re-center.

Complement people. 

Complements are so wonderful. They make the person you complement feel good, and they are a concrete opportunity for you to express gratitude for something wonderful about somebody else. 

I try and complement it liberally as I can, even with strangers. 

Have you ever noticed how compliments sometimes mean more coming from strangers? I think part of it is the fact that you know they have no vested interest in you and so the impetus to say something must be extra strong for them to approach a total stranger and say something nice. It definitely makes everybody feel good. (It’s also an antidote to the internet FYI!)

Use a daily gratitude practice. 

It could be the worksheet we talked about last week from the Gratitude Resource Package (sign up at the bottom of this post to grab it if you haven’t) , it could be a benchmark of five complements to other people every day, or whatever other practice resonates most with you, but making some kind of daily commitment that is measurable can be so helpful in nurturing long-term gratitude.

You can also use a physical item to support your daily gratitude practice, like something from our Gratitude Collection.

In fact, today we are launching three new gratitude items + one super awesome bundle, all to serve as ongoing reminders of the importance of gratitude. The new items include 2 pieces (a limited edition necklace and some super cute stud earrings) with an image of open hands lifting up a full heart. I love the simplicity and beauty of that symbol because it encompasses praise, lifting our hearts up in prayer, and also speaking gratitude out of the fullness of our hearts. 

There is also a simple cord “Thank You” bracelet that you’ll see on your wrist throughout the day that will remind you to find something to say thank you for in that moment – a powerful way to use a piece of jewelry to keep you accountable to your gratitude practice!

Pray prayers of thanksgiving. 

Gratitude to God is what it’s ultimately all about. All that is good comes from him. Everything we are grateful for no matter what it is is the direct result of God moving. Dedicate a special prayer time every day to just being thankful. 

I like to do this in the evening as I’m going to bed. As I get more and more tempted by the closing of the day to give in to worry about what is still undone or what is coming next, I have found it so helpful to sit in gratitude with God instead.

To celebrate the launch of our new gratitude products and the work you’ve put in with us this month to grow in gratitude we are offering our brand new Gratitude Bundle on a super sale for the next 48 hours! 

All the products in the box come to $50 normally and sell as a bundle for $38, but for the next 48 hours you can get the whole bundle for just $30 – no code needed! It includes the new bracelet and stud earrings, as well as a lovely print and sticker all in a perfectly giftable box. 

How do you live gratitude on a daily basis? If you have any tips or tricks I would love to share them in our Facebook and Instagram stories so go ahead and comment to let me know!

With joy,

Jill

Three Ways to Nurture Kind Curiosity Towards Yourself

Three Ways to Nurture Kind Curiosity Towards Yourself

The other day I was storming around our house like a bull in a china shop. Everything the kids did annoyed me. I had so many internal quips going it was hard to even keep up with the string of negativity in my head. I was frustrated with the whole world.

Finally I stopped, right in the middle of the living room, and, out loud, asked What is wrong? Why am I feeling like this?”

Stopping to ask this gave me the space to breath – the distance from my own internal rumblings to gauge the situation and realize I was letting stress from another area of my life color my interactions with my family. It wasn’t the people around me I was frustrated with, I was frustrated at the anxiety I felt about a situation I couldn’t control. And this realization and quiet gave me the opportunity to pray briefly for God’s help in letting go of my anxiety. From there, the day was better.

Curiosity helps us ask the hard questions.

Asking ourselves “What’s wrong?” might seem like an obvious question, but how often do we skip the obvious questions when dealing with ourselves? It’s hard to grow personally without these answers, and yet we don’t seek them out. It’s also hard to grow deeper in our relationship with the Lord if we don’t even know what’s going on inside ourselves.

I have found that stopping to be curious about my own feelings has been a powerful tool in deepening my relationship with Christ, just like in the story above. When I am more clear on what I am feeling and why, I am better able to articulate to our Lord in prayer what it is that I am struggling with and what it is that I am seeking His help with. It’s not because He doesn’t know unless I tell Him, it’s because I don’t know unless I tell him. 

Without curiosity, I likely a.) wouldn’t have prayed at all in my agitated state or b.) prayed for everyone to leave me alone indefinitely, neither of which would have helped the situation. 

Here are three excellent ways to cultivate curiosity towards your own feelings – good and bad – and open new doors of connection with those around you and our Lord himself.

1. Stop and ask “What is going on here?” 

This is what I did in the living room that day, and I didn’t know the answer right away. But stopping to ask the question predisposed me to begin seeking an answer. I combed back over the day in my head, thinking of the things that of happened and how they had made me feel. Eventually I was able to pinpoint an event that had sent me off on my tirade. It was something small but it made me feel very anxious, and it sent me off on a path of frustration until I stopped the cycle by asking why. 

2. Develop a writing habit. 

What this looks like in your own life is highly personal. Some people like to journal every morning, some every night, some irregularly whenever the fancy strikes them. But I think that it is deeply important to regularly translate words from our head through our hands in writing. Whether you write long hand or on a computer or laptop, the effort of putting words to the things swirling around your head can help you make connections and investigate your own feelings. You may want to treat journaling itself as a prayer, offering your thoughts to God as you think them and write them, or you may want to use journaling as an opportunity to get clear on what’s in your mind for yourself before taking some concentrated time with God to discuss what came up.

3. Talk to the people who know you best.

The people that love you the most typically are not the ones who are hardest on you, although I know there are exceptions. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably hardest on yourself. But, the people that know you and love you best may understand you more than you understand yourself sometimes. There have been many times when I haven’t been clear on the source of my own feelings when my husband has been able to help me gain clarity by pointing out patterns in my behavior that I am not even aware of myself. 

A loving outside perspective can be very valuable in recognizing the large broad stroke patterns we fall into, especially when they are played out over long periods of time that may be hard for us to observe all at once in ourselves. Having this conversation with someone that you love is also a wonderful opportunity to embrace vulnerability and choose hope and growth over comfort. 

The Gift of Self Awareness

Self-awareness, gained through curiousity, is an excellent tool in the fight against disordered self reliance. Disordered self reliance, unlike an appropriate amount of personal responsibility and desire to maintain oneself healthfully as a person, is based on the idea that we can save ourselves. This is just not the truth. 

Self awareness is valuable to combat this because when we truly become aware of our faults, feelings, and triggers our need for God becomes abundantly clear. These are the things that we hold humbly in our hands when we come to God in prayer, offering the worst of ourselves to him that loves our whole selves unconditionally. God wants us to give him our weakness because in doing so we truly surrender to him allowing his strength to shine through.

It can be a lovely thing to be weak. It is so countercultural, but embracing our weakness is one of the most beautiful paths to deeper relationship with God. For myself seeing my own brokenness with unclouded eyes has given me the opportunity to grow in freedom and love for God. Knowing my weakness allows me to feel free because the illusion that my strength should sustain me is gone. It is just clearly impossible. And that realization is a wonderful gift.