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Discovering Her Identity

Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” – Genesis 29:32, NIV

Leah watched as her sister, Rachel, flirted with Jacob. She watched as they courted, the secret glances they stole at each other when they thought no one else was looking. She admired the way Jacob worked for seven years so that he could marry Rachel.

Then her father came, just hours before her sister’s wedding. He shoved the bridal clothes at her, demanding she slip into them and wed Jacob in her sister’s place.

The next morning, she could hear Jacob shouting at her uncle, demanding to know why he’d been betrayed. Then seven days later, Jacob married Rachel, the sister he truly loved.

Leah was trapped in a loveless marriage but God saw her misery. He sent her a son, and she named him Reuben. She was certain that now her husband would love her and in doing so, made the mistake of placing her worth in her husband and her children rather than God. That’s why she’d spent years feeling so empty and chasing Jacob.

But somewhere along the way, Leah accepted her true identity as a favored daughter of God. She understood that God loved her unconditionally and let that love fill her with peace and joy.

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children. – Genesis 29:35, NIV

God, help me to remember my worth comes not from my relationships. Like Leah, let me rest in You, content with the knowledge that I am Your beloved child. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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The Mother Who Doubted

“Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him.” – Genesis 21:2-3, NIV

Sarah had once imagined sticky handprints on the walls, bedtime cuddles, and Saturday mornings spent with a child. But the years had slowly turned into decades and there was no baby.

She had cried more tears than there were in the sea. Eventually, she reached a place of painful acceptance. She let go of the dream and accepted that a child would never come from her womb.

But one day, she overheard her husband, Abraham, talking to two strangers. Angels the Lord had sent who promised that she would bear a son.

Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” (Genesis 18:11-12)

Sarah’s laughter revealed her inner doubt. She smoothed her hand over her flat belly and sighed. Nearly ninety, her youth had faded. Yet her doubt didn’t stop God from giving her a son.

Sarah’s story proves that God can still work a miracle even when we struggle with doubts. His miracles are not dependent on you or what you do, for He is the Eternal God.

God, forgive me for my doubts. I’m trusting You to redeem this situation in Your way and in Your timing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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The Next Generation

“You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” – Judges 13:5, NIV

Jamie was pregnant with her first child. While she was excited for the birth, she was also scared. When Liz, an older woman from her church reached out to her, Jamie shared her fears.

“My mother was addicted to drugs and my father was in and out of prison for most of my childhood. I’m afraid that what happened in one generation will keep repeating in the next. How can I raise a child when I’ve never had a good example of how to do it?”

Liz shared the story of Samson’s mother. “An angel visited Manoah’s wife and told her she would become pregnant with a son who would later be called Samson.”

“When her husband, Manoah wanted to know how to raise the boy, the angel came to the couple and shared God’s instructions again. God will give you wisdom and reveal how to parent your child if you only ask.”

God, let me remember that the sins, mistakes, and problems with the previous generation don’t have to be my child’s story. Show me how to be a wise and loving parent, just like You are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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A Difficulty Pregnancy

“The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” – Genesis 16:7-8, NIV

Hagar found herself alone and pregnant. She’d been instructed to sleep with her mistress’s husband and the union had resulted in a pregnancy. But even this did not make her mistress happy.

So, Hagar felt she had no choice but to flee. She was traveling alone in the desert when God reached out to her. He asks where she’s from and where she’s going.

When Hagar explains that she’s run away, God instructs her to return to her mistress. Then He goes on to speak of her unborn child, promising that he will live freely in the land among the rest of his family.

The conversation leads Hagar to this revelation…

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” – Genesis 16:13, NIV

Not every pregnancy is easy or fun. Yours may be difficult due to disease or illness. You may lack the support of a community or be under a heavy load of stress. But just as God saw Hagar, He sees you. He sees your difficult pregnancy and He is watching over you.

God, when I’m tempted to worry or fret, help me to turn to You. When discouragement calls my name, let me remember that I am seen by You, my loving Heavenly Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Navagating Peace of Mind

There have been many analogies used to describe your mind, but likening it to the ocean is a perfect comparison to living in today’s modern world. Like the sea, your mind is constantly moving, can be stirred up at any moment by ever-increasing storms and surges, and you always have to navigate around the pollutants that are ever-present.

Finding calm in the ocean is tough, as is finding peace of mind in our hectic, modern age. When you learn to reduce the influence of your thoughts on your actions and emotions, you can create a calmer sea in which to thrive. Learning to still your mind is a skill that must be practiced, but it is possible to develop peace of mind.

Peace of mind is merely a mental and emotional state of calmness. When you are at peace, you can let go of worries, anxiety, and other mental activities that disrupt your mind. One of the critical components of peace of mind is being present, which requires letting go of the past and not worrying about the future.

How to Create A Peaceful Mind

Like all other mental skills, creating peace in your mind must be practiced and learned. It’s not something that will just happen simply because you want it to, unfortunately. But, by practicing these strategies regularly, you can become more at peace and develop a calmer mindset that allows you to live in the present.

Meditate

The most significant practice you can learn and perfect to develop peace of mind is meditation. The mindfulness you learn from regular, meditative practice is the cornerstone of all the other skills necessary for cultivating peace of mind. Learning to meditate and be mindful of how your emotions are affecting you and how your thoughts influence your behavior is crucial.

If you have never meditated before, try a guided practice that teaches you the basics and instills the tenets of this practice. There are not many, and it’s easy to learn with just a little practice.

Meditation reshapes your brain and how it is wired, allowing you to better cope with stress and push away negative thoughts as they intrude into your peace. Meditation practice can reduce anxiety, which is the most likely reason your mind is at unrest, as well.

Forgive

Holding onto grudges for past mistakes is robbing you of inner peace. This type of negative thinking holds you down and keeps you living in anxiety and negativity, which rob you of your peace of mind. Learning to forgive is vital for moving on and finding joy and peace in your current world.

Worry Only About Yourself and God

When you are constantly thinking and worrying about what others may think of you or your choices, you will not be able to find peace. Fear of judgment creates the negative emotions that make finding peace of mind difficult. You will never please everyone, and others do not have to live your life or with the consequences of your actions. The only perons that has a heaven or hell to send you to is God. Stop caring what others think. You’ll be much happier and at peace.

Be Patient

Patience and tolerance go a long way in today’s hectic world. When you learn to accept that much is not in your control, you can better roll with the situations life hands you and take things for what they are.

Whether it is the behavior of others, the pace at which the world is moving, or even how much things cost, the only thing you can control is your reaction to these. Learning patience and tolerance can allow you to put your focus where it needs to be, which is you.

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How I Found “Me” Time

I, like most women, am pre-programmed to take care of everybody else before me. It’s hard in this day and age when we seem to be doing it all. We’re daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, professionals, and we feel the pressure every single day.

But we all know how we can be after a couple of nights (or months) of not getting adequate sleep, or how frustrated we get when we don’t get even 15 minutes a day to ourselves.

Taking time off to do something you enjoy as a means of taking the edge off and releasing the pent-up pressure of your daily responsibilities isn’t a luxury – it’s a must!

Studies show that when you don’t prioritize yourself and your needs for, at least, a few minutes each day, you become resentful of those taking up your time and space. Then you start taking it out on them by lashing out, being frustrated all the time as opposed to your usual calm and sweet self.

Taking a breather gives you the opportunity to relax and recharge so you come back with a better ability to carry out your commitments with more clarity and a sense of enjoyment. Learning to be “in the moment” is crucial to your own personal sense of happiness.

This is what those who practice meditation refer to as “practicing mindfulness.” It gives you the power to control your emotions and lower your stress levels. When stress levels are low, your perspective on things tends to be more balanced, and positive, you’re not angry as much, you’re more organized, in control and energetic.

“We’re a multitasking society. If we’re having a conversation with a friend, we’re thinking about the other things we have to get done,” says Allison Cohen, a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles. “Instead, you need to be present in the moment…”

Often people ask me how I do so much. My response is I have learned to be in the moment. Whoever I am with, whatever I am doing, I concentrate on that and only that. No additional phone calls, no extracurricular activity, nothing. Just that encounter. It keeps things in perspective and creates clarity and strategic moves.

Here are a few tips to remind you how important it is to carve out some time for yourself.

You deserve it.

In order to lower stress levels, women need to stop feeling guilty about leaving the dishes unwashed, leaving the kids to play on their own for a few minutes, or leaving their work at work. So the first step is to consciously make the decision to free up some minutes during the day for you – everything (and everyone) else can wait.

“You have to build in battery recharge time,” says Margaret Moore, co-director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. “We’re very good at project management in our work lives, but not so well in our personal lives. Treat it like any project…”

Decide how you’d like to spend these precious minutes.

Some women exercise, others read a book; some do yoga, while there are those who just want a cup of coffee and some quiet. Whatever provides you with relaxation and a chance to free your thoughts and release some of the pressure, then that’s what you should do.

Remember, though, that you should treat this time as you would any other appointment and don’t get bullied by your sense of guilt into doing housework or running errands during your special time.

It takes practice, but you’ll quickly discover that you become a much calmer version of you when you make time for yourself, and who doesn’t want that!

Practice smart time management skills.

Whether it’s scanning emails, surfing the net or answering personal calls during your workday, then it’s time to put a stop to anything that wastes time and leads to nothing. Learning to organize your responsibilities should be your top priority, this will eliminate stress and free up time, which you can use for something more enjoyable.

You can even sit down during the weekend to organize your time, and write down everything that should be accomplished for that week. Sometimes, this means that there may be times when you have to say “no” to some obligation or other that you don’t want to participate in that doesn’t bring satisfaction or joy into your life.

On the plus side, if you’re facing a problem at work or at home, sometimes the best way to find an answer is to stop thinking about it altogether.

Channel your energy into doing something creative. Being creative could be what you need to grease those brainstorming wheels and regain your focus. It could also be the exact thing you need for better sleep.

Find the time.

Well, unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day – you won’t ever be able to change that. However, what you can do is free up some time here and there to your own personal gain. Juggling your work or study schedule, traffic and everything in between can be freakishly difficult to handle.

However, all you need are some smart organizational skills, and you can be the one in control of your time and not the other way around.

  • If you drive, use this time to listen to music or the radio. You can even enjoy the quiet and your own thoughts.
  • If you can ditch your car and use public transportation, then you can use that time to do something you enjoy, like read a book or writing or even meditation.
  • If you can walk, all the better. This way, you’re doing some exercising; you can listen to music or an audiobook.
  • If you have an appointment, try to get there 15 minutes, or even more, early so you can have those minutes to yourself.
  • If you can, have lunch by yourself at least once a week. Go to the park to get a break from all noise pollution, or if you can’t, stay in your car or a quiet cafe or restaurant where you won’t find any distractions. Many associate being alone with loneliness, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Being by yourself allows you to enjoy your own company. You get back in touch with your interests, likes and dislikes so you know exactly what makes you happy, and a stronger version of yourself.

“Solitary time can help you have a better understanding of yourself, your thoughts, and your emotions,” says Katherine L. Muller, PsyD, associate director at Center for Integrative Psychotherapy.

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Ladies: What’s Stopping You from Taking Care of Yourselves?

Women take care of everything and everyone usually falling asleep at night from sheer exhaustion. Shouldn’t that be enough? But it isn’t, because the most important person in that equation is being the one most marginalized.

Women are predisposed to be the caretakers of the family, no matter what role we’re playing; daughters, wives, mothers, friends. And it’s sucking the life out of us. Meanwhile, the men in our lives sometimes don’t get how much we sacrifice to make sure their lives are running smoothly

We have to take a step back and ask ourselves one fundamental question: “If we don’t start taking care of ourselves, who will?”

The answer is, no one!

Almost always, you’ll find women with too many commitments, being pulling in each and every way. These women know that they should start exercising, eating better and sleeping more. But they don’t’ know where to start.

And since they’re already overwhelmed with things to do and people to take care, they see taking care of themselves as just another “job”, so they just keep pushing it down the list.

But one of the things we don’t take into account when we neglect to take care of ourselves is that through this behavior, we’re setting the bar of how we want the people around us to treat us. You can’t expect them to put your needs first when you don’t do the same.

Here is how I started down the path to some much- needed self-care:

The first thing you need to do is to stop feeling guilty about taking time off for yourself. I know it’s easier said than done but it is necessary. I still struggle some days. However, I remind myself that it is essential for others as well because I cannot take care of them if I haven’t been taken care of.

The second thing you should do is to find the things that you like.

The third, and probably the most important, is to schedule in time for yourself just like you would any other appointment so you reduce the risk of forgetting or cancelling. This is an amazing tactic. It is intentional and it works.

The final step is putting the plan in motion. Writing all of this down on paper is great but if it’s not implemented it’s just words on paper. Don’t think of it as a selfish act, because when you’re happy and relaxed, you bring a sense of calm and contentment.

Here are a few things I have tried to do to take care of myself:

  • Take time to do something for you and only you – even if it’s just for 10 minutes each day.
  • Meet up with friends and family, or talk on the phone at least once a week.
  • Read something that inspires you – it can be a book or even a short quote.
  • Don’t be passive. Learn how to be the one in control of your life, not just react to things as they happen. This is a reflection of how emotionally stable you are.
  • Stop prioritizing others’ opinions over yours. Don’t allow anyone else’s expectations to dictate who you are and what your likes/dislikes are.
  • Make sure you look and dress in a way that boosts your confidence. You’d be surprised how this can improve your outlook. I know I was.
  • Have goals and work towards them. From the small, daily goals to the big, life-changing ones, having something to strive towards helps keep things in perspective.
  • Ask for help. This is still the most difficult for me because like many women I see myself as being able to do it all, with no outside help. But that’s not being realistic and it’s stressful. And you’ll quickly resent those you’re taking care of because the load is too heavy for you to carry on your own. No successful woman ever did everything by herself all the time – it’s just not possible. When you ask for help, it means you’re wise enough to know your limits and you love yourself and your family enough to know when it’s time to take a step back, reassess, rest then come back a happier, calmer version of yourself.