Self Care is Spirit Care

To me, devotional means anything sacred that connects us with the Lord. Spiritual health depends a lot on how we spend the quiet moments in our day, as well as the habits we adopt and carry out. I found a list of things to do to “better yourself” on Pinterest the other day and decided it was good enough to add my own personal spin to and share as a blog post. A cluttered mind and life is a cluttered Spirit. I am fervently incorporating these into my own life at the moment in order to declutter.
Enjoy!

 

//Drink a lot of water.
//Eat a big breakfast, average lunch & tiny dinner.
//Fill up on fruits, veggies & natural foods.
//Go for a walk when stressed.
//Spend more time looking at the sky. You will be in awe of what you see.
//Read a book… or 10. Always be reading one and expanding your mind.
//Go to bed earlier, consistently.
//Stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself & others.
//Don’t dwell on the past, turn it into art.
//Enjoy the little things in life.
//Stop judging & comparing yourself to others.
//Meditate on the Word daily, even if it’s only 15 minutes. Soak in it.
//Stop putting things off. It’s better to start somewhere now than later.
//Avoid processed food.
//Meal prep at the beginning of each week.
//Talk to yourself. Tell yourself the truth until you’re blue in the face if need be.
//Stretch daily.
//Listen to music that makes you feel connected to the Lord.
//Go into creation whenever possible.
//Live in a tidy space. Your home/room is your sanctuary after a long day.
//Wear clothes that make you happy & keep you warm.
//Throw away things you don’t need. Spend time contemplating the necessities.

 

//Check the posture of your heart before responding and making decisions.

 

//Remember that God sees all the effort you’re making now that seems unnoticed & the work you’re putting in will pay off in the end.

 

 

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Purpose in the Placement

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
Ephesians 5

The Lord has plans to use you exactly where you are. Your job is not to be wasted, your education, your family dynamics, where you live, whom your friends are, your hobbies, your strengths, your abilities, your romantic relationships, the body of believers surrounding you, even your social media platforms.
You have been given your exact strengths and level of influence for a reason.

The only thing left to do is examine where you are. Make use of the time you have. You are where you are for a reason. You are who you are for a reason. There is so much kingdom work that can be done any place where there are other souls.
I have never looked back on a place I did not choose or desire to be and not seen at least some purpose in why I was put there.

Being where you are is no surprise to Him, He has divinely placed you there. The Lord can and will use you literally anywhere. Nothing is pointless.

The Power of the Tongue

“Life and death are in the power of the tongue…”Proverbs 18:21
Like anything powerful, there is potential danger in the tongue. Quick and cutting words, impulsiveness, sarcasm, and competition are just a few of the ways we can abuse our speech. Words are important. Our words affect people deeply. People are built up or torn down by the words we speak. If my purpose in life is to honor God and love people, I must make how I use my speech a priority. I don’t want to simply keep from speaking words of discouragement, I am to use my tongue to give life. I must use my speech to inspire people to walk closer to the Lord, to remind them who they are in Him, to encourage, to build up, to edify, to bless.
Our very faith foundation is built upon the life giving words of Jesus, the Word made flesh. We as His people have a duty in turn to use seasoned speech that is consistently characterized by life giving. To speak encouraging things over the people around us, and to know how and when to respond (Proverbs 15:23).
So how do we control our words? How do we direct our mouth to speak life?
-Well firstly, the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart (Matthew 15:18), and I am called to watch over my heart with diligence. To check up on it vigilantly. So before my speech can become life giving, my heart has to be right.
-Ask the Lord to make me quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19), which does not come naturally to anyone but is fruit produced in me when I am living by the Spirit (Galatians 5:24-25)
-Remember what it cost, the damage done in the past. Not in a shame filled way, but learning not to return to it, ending the pattern of repetition (Proverbs 26:11).
-Recognizing where my speech is corrupt and cutting it out, then only speaking what builds up (Ephesians 4:29).
-Speaking constructive criticism and correcting in love. You would be surprised how much a person will grow when rebuked in love. Knowing when and how to rebuke with God’s word in a gentle manner is one of the most valuable lessons. I have never felt more loved than when someone I respected and trusted corrected me with God’s word, even if it is painful in the moment (Proverbs 27:5-6).
-And the most important of all these is to remember that we are not on our own. God’s Spirit is producing fruit in us, and with Him comes the fruit of self control. Lean into Christ. He will not fail to give us wisdom on how to speak in a manner worthy of Him when we ask (James 1:5).

Receiving

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
Acts 4:32

Allowing yourself to be cared for by your fellow believer is one of the most courageous and Biblical things you can possibly do. This culture will not teach us this. And if we know anything, it is that culture influences even Christ’s body to conform to it.

There was a period of time where I had just moved to a new state and was without a car. This did not last very long, but for the length of time that it did, it was a struggle. My fiance is honestly the most selfless person I know and toted me around to work and the like, but with a life and job of his own, this was a burden for me to ask of him. So when I could, I would ask other people for rides if it was convenient and on the way. On the way home one day with my college pastor, I was telling her how difficult it was for me to have her drive me down the street, even though her house was literally a street down from hers.
Pride, disguised as humility.
She proceeded to tell me of an experience she had in Europe. Most people do not have their own cars and rely on getting rides from others to get around. And though not many of us would be comfortable adopting this as a permanent lifestyle, it speaks volumes about who we are as a culture. We are taught to be self sustaining, to not bother others, to be one step ahead of the game. But the lessons I learned about accepting help were profound during that time, as well as the amount of times I was told that it was a BLESSING to others to care for my need and help me in that way. The early church thrived because they shared all they had with each other.

I spend a whole lot of time taking my needs before the Lord and when he uses His people to fulfill them, pushing back on the help. I spend a whole lot of time asking Him to allow me to see His provision and fighting it when it’s right in front of me, simply because it is unexpected, uncomfortable, and maybe not in the way I desire it.

Pride says to hide. Pride says we can do this alone. Pride says His goodness is too good to possibly be real. Pride says there’s a loophole somewhere, or hidden strings attached. Pride says we aren’t good enough to receive, and likes to disguise itself as humility.
But pride is wrong. Pride is fully flesh, it’s the most bitter of seeds in all humans. Acknowledge it. Call it out by its name. Allow yourself to be loved, to be cared for, to receive.

Recognize what laying down your pride looks like for you. Uncover what it is disguising itself as. There’s a whole world on the other side of it. Open yourself up to community and embracement. The enemy hates it. It’s a slap in his face. Yet it is God’s best for us to simply receive. He’s all about gifting His children, if only we would lay down our nothings for His overflowing, our not enough’s for His more than enough’s.

I am learning how to receive. And learning is the most painful process. But what a gift to have to accept that doing this life alone is not an option for the believer. What a beautiful way to live, for the other.

When The Only Thing To Do Is Trust Him

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.”
Isaiah 55:8

Sometimes when the Lord is teaching us, He takes us through the season we’re in and shows us His clear purpose in it all. He shows us, it seems, exactly the lesson, exactly the steps that need to be taken, and in the end we see the exact flow to it and reasoning behind it all.
But most times, we are to walk blindly in the dark with nothing but His presence beside us.
No matter whether it is clear as day or pitch black, His intentions are always the same: good. For our good. For our best. For His glory.

Truth is, He is so high above us that we cannot fathom what He is up to. Even when things seem clear and like we understand His plan, there is still so much going on behind the scenes. He has so many ways and thoughts that we will never be able to understand. He is God, we are not. The only thing left to do is trust Him, and in that is all the peace, all the purpose, all the knowledge we need.

Surrendering control is where the light shines through and the peace takes over.

Debts & Gifts

I have never been put in situations where accumulating mass amounts of debt was necessary, thank God. I have been blessed and taken care of more than I can say. But the few times I have been in debt, one time in particular recently, it was horrible.

I want to discuss the contrast of owing debt, to debt being covered, to receiving a gift.

The Word states that the borrower is a slave to the lender(Proverbs 22:7) & that we are to owe no one anything, except to love each other(Romans 13:8). These things are warned for good reason. Being indebted to another is one of the worst feelings, especially when we know there is no way we will be able to pay it off without help. The worst kind of debt in my opinion is debt owed to a friend. Even though this may be the most lenient kind, since if they are really your friend they will be understanding, the burden that comes with it is the worst emotionally. For physical things like a car payment or school loans, obviously, there is much to lose. The car can get taken away. Our credit can be ruined. But when you owe a friend, a terrible guilt comes along with it. In this recent situation, one of my closest friends loaned me money. It wasn’t much, but enough to be too much to pay back easily at that point in my life, which was paycheck to paycheck. There was nothing left over. Every penny counted. I bit off more than I could chew. I spent more than I had, and all the excuses in the world are not even worth trying. It was a mistake that seemed necessary at the moment, but the guilt and hiding it caused in the relationship was not worth it. Because I owed her this money that I knew I could not afford to pay back at the moment, I hid. I did not speak to her because of how bad I felt about the situation. My friend lent me money she really could not spare and needed back. Paying her back was something that needed to be done. It was the first thing that came to mind when I thought of her. Even to the point where I was unable to bring myself to invite her to my wedding because I felt so bad. When I causally mentioned this to my mother, she immediately told me she would cover it. That I should have asked. For her, the money was no big deal. The friendship and not being indebted was most important. Because I knew I would never be able to repay this in the near future, and my mom knew this, she covered it without a second thought. She payed a debt I owed that I could not repay. She took off a burden and weight that kept me from being able to have a healthy friendship with one of the most important people in my life. When the debt was finally paid, the second I sent that money, I called her and updated her on all things wedding and life. I told her what mindset I had when I owed her that money, and of course she told me I was ridiculous. She told me she was worried since I hadn’t kept up with her and missed me. But that the money did matter, and having it paid off made it so that the relationship was no longer strained, if simply in my mind or in real life. And things could move forward.

Owing, needing someone to pay a debt we owe that we cannot possibly pay, is the basis of our entire need for salvation. And the debt has to be paid. Obviously, if my friend were able she’d love to say “have it, it’s my gift to you.” Of course, God would love to say “it’s my gift to you, have it” but neither could. And just as the wedge in my friendship hurt our hearts, it literally broke God’s heart that sin had severed our relationship with Him. It broke it so much that He made it top priority to make a way, and He did. Without my mom paying that money back, the relationship would’ve always continued this way until it was paid off. And when it was paid off, after my wedding and who knows what other big events in my life, the friendship would have been so strained that who knows if it could ever be resurrected.

There is nothing better than a free gift. There is nothing that brings more relief than when the Lord offers to cover us for no price and not even a harsh scolding, but simply out of His love for us. What sin has severed, grace has mended.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23

The Rest Found In Perfect Peace

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Isaiah 26:3

I don’t know about you, but when my mind is full of chaos and anxious thoughts, rest is not possible. My surroundings can be calm and serine. But rest only comes when there is peace in our minds, and peace comes from the Lord. We are kept in perfect peace BECAUSE we trust in the Lord. Apart from him there is no peace, and therefore no rest.

To learn the art of feeling small contains more rest than all the strength in the world. To begin to understand that God knows and we do not, that God has a plan and sees all and we do not have to, takes all the burden off of us. It removes the weight of the world from our shoulders.

As humans, we feel there is weakness felt in not knowing. There is a smallness that settles over us and shames us when we do not feel in control, which is why we strive to be in it so adamantly. But to be powerless, to have no strength or control, that is the exact space that the Lord enters in. That is right where He wants us: to be aware of who He is, and that be enough.

Want to enter into rest? Stop striving. Come to terms with how small you are or rather, how big He is. Then let the weak say they have strength and the weary find rest and the chained soar on the wings of eagles and the exhausted run and not grow tired and the humble receive grace and the broken find new mercy.

Because they have lost themselves only to find themselves in Him. And it will make all the difference. There is a glory that comes to Him when He uses and works in our tininess. There is a freedom that is found in the place where we know it is not us, but Him. Give yourself over to obedience, surrender. And then rest. When our minds are fixed on Him, we enter into perfect peace, because He IS perfect peace.