Perhaps you’ve heard that one of the best ways to overcome an inward focus (and the discouragement and depression that it can bring) is to serve others.
This is good advice. But what if your entire life is already built around serving others?
Let’s say that you’re a mother or a teacher or a caregiver or you serve in ministry…and practically everything you do is already either serving someone else or structured around the times and ways you serve.
And let’s say you’re finding yourself overwhelmed, and your emotions are turning in on you.
How is adding one more act of service supposed to feel like anything less than an extra burden? How is baking cookies for your neighbor, for instance, going to feel like anything other than one more thing to do for one more person?
And if baking cookies won’t help, what can you do to break out that self focus?
Here are thirteen ideas: Continue reading
I saw a date in the margin of my Bible this morning that made me start—2/26/04. It wasn’t just the date that took me by surprise, but the realization that it has been exactly ten years since that day.
I remember where I was when I wrote that date—on the top bunk in a guest room in Bowie, Texas.
I remember the verse I read just before I wrote that date. (I don’t actually have to remember that one—it’s right there in the margin of my Bible. But I remember it anyway.) Psalm 86:4, “Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.”
I remember what I did after I read that verse and wrote it in my journal. I stepped outside the guest house with a spiral notebook and sat on the back stoop to write an article for the magazine I was editing at the time. The article appeared in the June/July ’04 issue of Stepping in the Light, and it was titled “Sing, Little Bird!” The article provides some insight into that day: Continue reading
I have a thousand blessings to rejoice in today: a warm house, food in the refrigerator, a working car, a delightful family, kind friends, opportunities to serve…I even had pie for breakfast. (You always know it’s going to be a good day when you eat pie for breakfast. Always.)
But in all my reasons to rejoice there is none greater than this: “Rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 4:4). In life, I have many reasons to rejoice. But in Jesus, I have every reason to rejoice.
To be sure, just as easily as I can come up with a list of blessings, I could gather a list of discouragements. If I really set my mind to it, I could make my discouragements list longer than my blessings list. (This is not because I have greater discouragements than blessings, but because a mind set on discouragement easily finds it.) Continue reading
Eleven years ago today my youngest brother, Nathaniel, was born.
Excited isn’t the word. I think I began counting down the days until his birth about two months before his due date. When my mom woke me at 3:00 a.m. to tell me she was in labor, I couldn’t contain my joy.
If excited couldn’t describe the anticipation preceding Nathaniel’s entrance into my world, I don’t know the word that could describe what I felt when I learned a few hours later that he had been stillborn. Heartbroken doesn’t even come close.
Several weeks after, a mentally challenged lady in our church said it just right: “I miss your little brother,” she commented out of nowhere. “I would have liked to have gotten to know him.” I gave her a hug and then walked outside and bawled. I would have liked to have known him, too. Continue reading
I grew up in the Midwest, where February is a drab, tiresome month between winter and spring. There’s usually dirty snow sitting in patches of mud. And the skies are often hazy grey.
When my oldest sister, Nichole, was four years old, my dad noticed her listlessness and discouragement during the overcast days near the end of January. Wanting to cheer her, he formed a plan.
On February 1st, he enthusiastically announced to Nichole that this was the first day of “February Month.” And because this was such a special day, he had a present just for her. Furthermore, she would receive a present every day during February Month.
Nichole was delighted and looked forward to the stickers, erasers, balloons, and other February Month presents she received. By the time I came along, February Month was a well-established, eagerly-anticipated month of bonuses—a gift for every day! Continue reading
When I was little enough to be dumb, my uncle (who is just three years older than me) asked me a riddle:
“Pete and Repeat went down to the lake. Pete fell in, so who was left?”
The answer seemed so obvious, I couldn’t believe Scott thought this was a riddle.
“Okay, Pete and….”
Would you believe, it took me about three rounds of this to figure out what was going on?! And once I caught on, I thought it was so clever that I tried it on others, too. Unfortunately, no one else ever fell for it. Continue reading
You can’t get much plainer than Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”
But do we?
Do we just punctuate our conversations with “praise the Lord”? Or do we really praise Him?
In Christ, we find unlimited reasons to rejoice. Should we look to find joy in our circumstances, we sometimes could…and sometimes couldn’t. But should we choose to find our joy in the Lord, we will always have reason to rejoice. To rejoice is a choice, and to rejoice in the Lord should be one of the most spontaneous habits for the child of God!
But yesterday, I woke up knowing that I was going to need to make special effort to rejoice, so I set a challenge for myself. Since I knew that there are an infinite number of reasons to rejoice in the Lord (because His attributes and blessings are infinite), I determined to specifically name just one hundred. I wanted a measurable way to choose to rejoice, and I wanted a definite challenge to keep at it all day long. Continue reading