I recently received an alert for one of my email addresses. Apparently, having 27,000+ emails triggered the warning indicating I would no longer be able to send or receive any emails unless I went on a deleting spree.
No, I’m not an email horder, but due to the busyness of life, I’d neglected this particular account I’ve had for the past 15+ years and one of many accounts I have for my writing, ministry, jobs, volunteer work, and personal use.
Before I could do a massive delete session, I had to differentiate between those emails I really needed to keep and those that desperately needed to be expunged (like all the advertisements for my favorite clothing store to the tune of 2,893 emails).
There were also a multitude of other less important emails crowding my inbox—useless gunk better directed to the junk mail folder.
As is with the multitude of emails we receive each day, at any given moment, numerous thoughts bombard our mind.
An interesting article on Healthline states, “The results of a 2020 study suggested people typically have more than 6,000 thoughts per day.” Further, upon conducting that study, they determined, “a median rate of about 6.5 thought transitions per minute. This rate appeared to remain fairly consistent over time.”
Roughly 6,000 thoughts a day is an incredible amount of things our brain contemplates and ponders. Some of those thoughts are wonderful and others sneak in without warning, attempting to sabotage our day. Some thoughts are needed, while others are intended to cause worry, fear, temptations, discouragement, or unkindness towards others.
We may not have complete control over what flitters through our minds, but we do have control over what we allow to stay there and manifest itself.
What does the Bible have to say about what we allow to permeate our minds?
Philippians 4:8 states, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Colossians 3:2 encourages us to set our minds on things above.
And Hebrews 12:2 reminds us to fix our eyes on Jesus.
What else can we do “junk” thoughts enter our minds?
Be mindful of what we allow into our minds. What do we watch, read, and listen to? Who do we hang around? How are they influencing us? It’s a lot easier to be proactive and guard our minds than to remove what has filtered in.
Pray for God to protect our thoughts.
Dig into His Word and remain steadfast in learning more about Him.
You wake in the morning and fling open the curtains to find another beautiful sunshine-filled day. Perhaps you reach for a cup of coffee or head to the shower before tending to your job as a wife, mom, dad, grandparent, young adult, teen, employee, or all of the above. Whatever your plans, be sure to do the following to start your day off right. Here are five ways to do just that.
*Spend time with God. Even before I open my eyes, I spend time in prayer thanking Him for giving me another day and praising Him that everyday His mercies are new. I ask Him to help me to be a blessing to others and then offer my prayer requests to Him. Immersing myself in His Word is my next plan of action.
*Spend time with your spouse and kids. My husband heads to work before 5:00 a.m. on weekdays, much earlier than I start my day. However, on the weekends, we spend some time together before embarking on our day.
As a mom, one of the things I do first thing during the week is to spend a few minutes one-on-one with each of my daughters.
*Drink a glass of water. According to the Livestrong website, “Here’s why you feel parched in the morning: ‘Sleep is dehydrative,” Breus says. ‘On average, people lose a liter of water during the night, depending on the humidity level in your bedroom and your breathing patterns—like if you sleep with your mouth open or closed.’ Since water transports oxygen to your muscles and brain, dehydration can lead to physical and mental grogginess. To replenish your cells and perk up, guzzle at least 16 ounces of H2O.”
There are several benefits of drinking water right after waking. And it’s a great way to start toward your daily hydration. I keep a bottled water on my nightstand for that very reason.
*Be sure to eat a healthy breakfast. On Monday mornings, I teach an early cycling class, so time is more crunched than the rest of the days of the week. However, being sure I get a good breakfast helps start the day off right and gives me energy for daily activities. WebMD has an excellent article detailing why breakfast is so important.
*Do some gentle stretches. Stretching relieves tension and prepares you for the day. It also helps with circulation. As one with a former ankle injury, I always integrate ankle rotations into my morning stretches as well. (Always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program).
And if you need some fun music to get you going while you are doing stretches, check out Good Morning by Mandisa.
So embrace every morning and rejoice in the fact that each day is a gift!
Thanks so much for taking the time to share this post. I appreciate you!
It doesn’t seem possible that we’re already ushering in the New Year. Most of us can agree that 2022 flew by faster than ever. May, June, July…they all seem like distant memories.
Each year, New Year’s resolutions are made, and each year, New Year’s resolutions are broken, some within a month or two of making them. Below are some suggestions for keeping your New Year’s Resolutions.
Resolution: Exercise more.
How to fail: “I’m going to exercise every day for two hours without fail.” or “I’m going to run twenty miles a day.”
Tips to succeed: Beginning an exercise program doesn’t have to be daunting. Make it a goal to join one class at the gym and stick to it. Choose a class that is not too intense and is within your abilities. You can always move on to the next level at a later time. If you aren’t a gym member, plan to start a workout program (check with your doctor first) tailored to something you enjoy for up to 30 minutes a day, a couple of times a week to start. Some suggestions include a workout video (either the old-fashioned DVD way or through streaming); jumproping to several of your favorite songs; going for a walk each day through the neighborhood or in a nearby park; investing in a mini-trampoline; taking a swim at a nearby indoor pool; turning on the tunes and dancing; or purchasing some inexpensive dumbbells (or water bottles) and do a weight training routine. Whichever exercise you choose, be sure to warm-up first and start slow. It’s far easier to start slow and work your way up than to start with zest and burn out.
Resolution: Eat healthier.
How to fail: “I’m going to only eat healthy foods without fail.”
Tips to succeed: Start small. Choose one unhealthy food to eliminate from your diet or decide to add one healthy food to add to your diet. This past month, I added pumpkin to my list of healthy foods to eat on a regular basis. A few months ago, I added a “green drink” that consists of kale, spinach, and broccoli. Plan to give up an unhealthy food choice each month until it becomes a habit. If you “accidentally” consume the unhealthy food, no worries. Try again the following week. No pressure.
Resolution: Get organized/declutter
How to fail: “I will organize and declutter my house all in one day and will never, ever again succumb to the temptation of purchasing useless items again.”
Tips to succeed: Begin with manageable portions of organization. Tackle one room or space at a time. To do otherwise will be overwhelming. My plan for getting organized and decluttered consists of starting in my home office (where I spend a lot of time) beginning with my bookshelves, then my desk, then my exercise equipment. After my home office is completed (and giving myself ample time to finish it), I will move on to the kitchen, starting with countertops, then cupboards, and so on.
Resolution: Making your relationship with God a priority.
How to fail: “I will read the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation fourteen times in two months”.
Tips to succeed: Make growing your relationship with the Lord less a list of “to-do’s” and more of a sincere time to grow closer to Jesus. Spend time with Him first thing in the morning in prayer and in His Word. Pray throughout the day and without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and keep a prayer journal. Choose a book of the Bible to read and study each month and read a chapter each day for a month. I read a chapter each day, and when I run out of chapters, I start over again in the same book until the next month. For instance, in December, my book of choice is Romans. It has 16 chapters, so I will read each chapter almost twice in one month. My goal? To become a more knowledgeable student of His Word by really allowing the chapters to “sink in”, which will take me more than just one time reading them. I am working my way through the entire Bible this way, slowly and at a manageable pace, not because I have to, but because I want to know the Lord more fully.
Resolution: Save money/spend less/get out of debt.
How to fail: “I will never, ever buy anything, except the absolute necessaries and, if I do buy something extra, I’ll return it right away.”
Tips to succeed: For saving money, skim an amount off the top of your paycheck each month (or start with most months and work your way up). This can be a manageable amount to be increased in reasonable increments. To spend less, make a handwritten budget (handwritten is more intentional), make a grocery list with most important and necessary items at the top and lesser important (but not frivolous) items at the bottom for if your budget allows. To get out of debt, add an additional amount to pay on a debt each month. For example, pay extra toward your credit card, medical debt, or mortgage each month. Even if the additional amount seems minute, it adds up fast.
Resolution: Spend less time on social media/the computer/my phone or device (for things other than actual work projects).
How to fail: “I will give up all social media and only use my phone to call people”.
Tips to succeed: The all-or-nothing approach sets us up for failure. Instead, choose one or two social media platforms to spend your time on and step away from the rest. You can change those one or two at any time. Set the timer and allow yourself that amount of time to catch up on posts, “likes”, “retweets”, etc. Do the same for returning emails.
Setting unmanageable goals for ourselves is never the key to success. Rather, set an attainable goal and allow yourself grace if you fail. You can always start again.
Relationships can be tough. God’s Word tells us to love others. To show grace. Extend mercy. But putting it into action can be difficult, if not impossible at times.
What can we do when it’s difficult to love others?
Pray for them. Yes, it may sound cliche, and sometimes we use the term flippantly. But prayer is powerful. God tells us to pray for our enemies, for those who are unkind, and for those we find most arduous to deal with. We’ve all found ourselves in a place where the last thing we want to do is pray for those who have hurt us or those who add a heavy dose of stress to our lives.
But prayer works. We can pray to see the difficult person how God sees them—through His eyes. And, if they don’t yet know Him, we can pray for their Salvation or spiritual progress.
Commit to praying for the unlovable person consistently for thirty days. And then another thirty days, knowing God hears your prayers.
Pray for wisdom in dealing with the person in a Christlike manner. In most cases, there is no way we can do this on our own. But we serve a gracious God who promises us wisdom when we ask for it.
Don’t seek out conflict with this individual. In other words, don’t cause strife.
On that note, sometimes even after attempting to handle an issue with a difficult person in a Biblical manner (Matthew 18:15-17), it is not resolved. In some cases, our best course of action is to keep our distance, to remain respectful when we see the person, but not to seek them out.
Forgive. If someone has wronged us, forgiveness can be the last thing we want to do. In many, if not most cases, forgiveness, especially if the conflict has been especially painful, can only be done with the help of the Holy Spirit. Seek His help to forgive.
Don’t seek revenge, however tempting it may be. God tells us in His Word to not take revenge (Romans 12:19) and not to repay evil with evil.
People aren’t easy to love. We are all sinful and all mistreat others at times. Dealing with relational conflicts can be grueling and stressful. But by leaning on our Lord Jesus Christ and seeking Him, He will provide the guidance we need to deal with the difficult people in our lives.
*Please note that if you are being abused in any way, please seek help immediately.
All we have to do is live in the world for a day and it becomes evident there are joy zappers. We ourselves, other people, and even things that attempt to, while intentionally or inadvertently, steal our happiness seem to lurk around every corner.
Perhaps you recognize some of these joy zappers:
Illness. Ranking towardthe top of joy zappers is illness. According to the National Health Council, “About half of all adults have a chronic condition”. Chronic illness, chronic pain, and chronic disease are tough and can feel unmanageable, frightful, and depressing.
Mean people. Mean people are akin to weeds in a garden of flowers. It can be beyond difficult at times to react in a God-glorifying manner with “weedy” folks.
Complaining. Constant complaining can hinder our joy and make us forget how blessed we are.
Toxic media. Toxic media has taken on a whole new face in recent days. False news, censorship, lies, attacks, and more contribute to our already high stress levels in a world that has appeared to have derailed.
Idols. Idols, or anything we put above God in our lives, can come in many forms and can quickly steal our joy. Place the importance of material items—such as new cars to compete with the neighborsor an unlimited amount of charging on your charge card with no ability to pay the balance due—over everything else and you’ll quickly discover the stress of this common joy zapper.
Trials. Trials are never fun. Whether in the form of illness, relationship issues, money struggles, or when life just doesn’t go right, no one wants to hang out permanently in the struggles of life. I was recently speaking to my mom about one of the trials that has weighed heavily on my heart these past few weeks. “God is definitely growing you,” my mom tenderly told me. And she is right. God does grow us through trials. It is not fun to experience any type of trial, and most of us would like to learn whatever it is God is teaching us sooner rather than later.
Relationship conflict. Is there anything more stressful than relationship conflict?
Gossip. Being on the receiving end of gossip is an instant joy zapper and a painful reminder of how dangerous the tongue can be.
Unrighteous anger and bitterness. Unrighteous anger and bitterness can easily tip the scales against having a joyful life.
Comparison trap, procrastination, perfectionism, people-pleasing, worry, and fear. Comparing ourselves to others, procrastination, perfectionism, and people pleasing can all take us from happiness to dissatisfaction, discontentment, and a melancholy outlook. Likewise, worry and fear can take something meant to be pleasurable and turn it into something to dread.
Excessive busyness. Excessive busyness not only drags us down, but it’s unhealthy to be too busy. It causes stress and makes it difficult to find peace.
And there are many more that we could add to the list. Some of the items listed above are things others use to steal our joy. Others are things and demands we put on ourselves that steal our joy.
So what can we dowhen joy zappers fly in and attempt to take root in our lives?
Praydiligently and often.Lord, I surrender this joy zapper in my life to you. Please show me what I am to learn from it and grow me to be more like You through it. Help me to trust You more fully through any obstacles I may be facing. While I realize you might not take it completely away, I know You will walk with me through it, and I praise You for that.
Set your mind on things above. In Matthew 14, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. A good reminder to keep our eyes on Him. When we do so, we are held safely in His grasp.
Remember who He is. It is so easy to forget that the One who spoke this very world into existence, who created our innermost being (Psalm 139:13), and who died so we who have put our faith in Him may have eternal life someday, has also overcome the world. He is bigger than anything we find ourselves in the midst of. He can and will give us peace over the most difficult joy zapper.
Be mindful of where you spend your time. One of the biggest traps we can allow ourselves to fall into is spending time with the wrong things (or people!) When we constantly fill our minds with the news, negative social media posts, or angry music we can cause our perception of things to become skewed. Spending time with unhealthy things and people can also cause a shift in our personalities. As I have told my daughters many times, “garbage in = garbage out”. Don’t let the joy zappers of where we spend our time weigh us down.
Spend time in the Word. A better place to spend our time would be to spend it in His Word. Taking time each day, preferably in the morning before you start your day, to get to know Him through Scripture is a surefire anecdote for problems to become smaller.
Grow in the Lord. Are we further in our faithwalk this year than last year? When our growth becomes stagnate, our chances of being thwarted by a joy zapper is greater.
Spend time with godly family and friends. There are few things more energizing than spending time with a sibling in Christ. Godly family and friends can pray for us as we endure the struggles of our joy zappers, hold us accountable in our walk with the Lord and through temptations, and pray for us.
Set reasonable goals. One of the biggest joy zappers is busyness. I find myself guilty often of trying to cram too much into one hour/day/week/month. We weren’t designed to be on stress overload, as we navigate the 400,000,000 items on a to-do list. Instead, set reasonable goals and achieve them in bite-sized chunks.
Spend some time in Creation. An excellent remedy to combat joy zappers is to spend some time in Creation.
Forgive. Unforgiveness can steal our joy quicker than we might realize. And not only can it steal our joy on its own, it also leads to bitterness. Ephesians 4:31-32 has a lot to say about how God thinks we should handle bitterness. He tells us to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” And while it may be nearly impossible to forgive someone at times, we need only to remember how much we are forgiven for and what that need for forgiveness did to the Savior when He went to the Cross for us.
Nothing can steal our joy in Christ. It is more than mere happiness. It is a deep abiding knowledge that we are His and that we will spend eternity with Him, no matter what transpires in our lives. No matter what comes our way or threatens to derail us, Jesus is still on the throne.
Summer is on its way. Here, in no particular order, are five fun things to do to celebrate the season.
Plant flowers. Our family decided a few years ago to plant most of our flowers in containers. This is much easier to maintain. Want a fun way to bless others this summer? Plant a container of blooms for a neighbor or for someone who may be unable to plant some themselves.
Play on the swings. When was the last time you sat on a swing, pumped your legs, and pretended to fly through the air as you did as a kid? Bring out the inner child in you—it will create a fun memory for your own kids. Trust me.
Take the family out for ice cream. There’s nothing that says summer like this delicious frozen treat.
Read a good book in a hammock, on the porch, on the beach, or while relaxing in the mountains.
Build a DIY birdbath. Stay tuned in a future post for a super easy idea I’ll share about a DIY birdbath that has been a hit for our resident birds for the past couple of years.
I did an archeological dig today in the “emergency bin” in my SUV. It’s one of those things I rarely (thank goodness!) have had to dig into and, therefore, ancient fossils have accumulated there. Case in point…an old pair of new training underwear and baby wipes. We haven’t needed those in the Zeller household forever! And the old squished roll of toilet paper hidden at the very bottom? Let’s just say I wished I had found that in 2020. I could have become a very rich woman when I sold it on ebay for a cool million!
On a more serious note, it’s always a good idea to have some emergency supplies in your vehicle. Of course, things like jumper cables, a jack, a toolbox, and a fire extinguisher are must-haves. But what about creating a DIY “emergency bin” with these additional items for those times when you might be stranded?
For starters, choose a sturdy plastic bin with a lid. These come in a variety of sizes, and the amount of people in your family will determine how many of some of the items listed below you will need.
Here are 14 suggestions:
First aid kit
A pair or two of hats, gloves, boots, and a warm coat or sweater
In a world of struggles and disappointments, pain and setbacks, one of the most important things we can do for others is encourage them. Below are 10 ways to do just that.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “encouragement” as “something that makes someone more determined, hopeful, or confident.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, the Bible tells us, Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.
What are some simple ways we can encourage others?
In everyday life:
Give genuine praise and encouragement to family and friends. This can come in the form of how much you appreciate them, value them in your life, or just how much you love them. Little notes of encouragement are big hits. For some ideas on how to encourage your kids, see my post 7 Ways to Encourage Your Children(and for additional ways to show your children you love them, join me next week for my post 9 ways to show your kids you love them).
Did you get excellent service at a restaurant? Tell the waiter and the manager. Did someone at local business go above and beyond? Let them know! The lady who signs members in at our local YMCA always has a smile on her face. She is quick to go the extra mile. I recently told her how much we appreciate her, and I also let her boss know. This can also be done by completing comment card or quality-of-service questionnaire available at many businesses.
My daughters are fond of teasing me about the fact that I’ve never met a stranger. But you don’t have to be extroverted to share encouragement. What about letting the janitor/custodian know how appreciative you are that they keep your place of employment/a local business clean? What about telling the clerk at your grocery store you appreciate the hours they put into their job and their patience in dealing with all types of customers?
Encourage a mom. Motherhood is a hard job at times, and what mom doesn’t need a bit of encouragement? A quick word or note letting a mom know she’s doing a good job means a lot. You can even encourage a stranger! What about that mom in the long line at the grocery store with a hungry infant and grouchy toddler? We can discourage by giving a “judgmental” look or we can encourage by asking if we can help unload her groceries onto the conveyor belt or even by a simple sentence, “Oh I remember those days!” and a smile.
Doing motherhood well is not for the faint-hearted. Whether a mom dedicates her life to raising her children at home, works outside the home, or a combination of both, moms need encouragement. For ways on how to encourage moms, see my post Six Ways to Encourage Other Moms.
Encourage a dad. It’s tough to be a dad in today’s culture, where dads are oftentimes viewed with disrespect. Yet, there are many excellent dads doing their best to provide for their families, lead them spiritually, and help their children be the best they can be. Encourage a dad by praising him for his commitment to his wife and children, for the times he goes to work, even when he doesn’t feel like it, and for all the millions of tasks he performs to make the household run more smoothly. A small token of appreciation, like a bag of his favorite chips or a special treat, can go a long way to encouraging him.
Sending a card for no reason is especially meaningful in a time when handwritten notes are rare. How about a card detailing a favorite memory with the recipient?
Encourage other women. What about hosting a Girls Night Out? More details are found on my post Sisters in Christ Group.
Encourage on Social Media. Retweet, saving, liking, reposting, and sharing someone’s post is an encouragement. Rather than scrolling past, bless the writer of the post, as well as recipients in your timeline with a “like” or “share”. One of the things I enjoy doing each morning is going through my blog list and “liking” and oftentimes “sharing” blog posts I find especially helpful or entertaining.
Encourage by text. In a world full of busyness, sometimes a supportive text (sometimes for no reason at all!) can be the most encouraging.
Encourage an author. Did you just finish reading a book that you absolutely loved? Don’t be shy about it—spread the word! Post a positive review on Amazon, CBD, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads. (By the way, this means more to authors than you will ever know—trust me on this one!)
Encourage a neighbor. In our fast-paced society, many of us have never met the people who live in our neighborhoods. Why not go on a walk and stop to greet the neighbor mowing his lawn? Or deliver some goodies during the Christmas season? We were so busy this past Christmas that neighborhood treats didn’t get made, so we decided to make New Year’s treats and deliver those around the neighborhood instead.
Each day, we all have a chance to be either an encourager or a discourager.