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Joy in the everyday

40 days of joy

My top 6 favorite joy experiences.

1) Play outside. 2) Blessings. 3) Freedom from high standards. 4) Resting when I need to. 5) Knowing that being a Mom is a big deal, and 6) The God Pocket in real life.  

My 40 days of finding Joy in the everyday officially ended on April.2. It is now April.20th, so I’m a little late in writing a reflection piece on the whole process, so I apologize.

My main point around starting this series came from that inner struggle of fighting the Mom funk, and finding Joy as a stay at home mom. You can read about this in my first post here. I was thinking it would be a fun, light series, and “happy, happy, happy” (for duck dynasty viewers, as Phil would say it).

In the end it became something much different then I ever planned on. Sure I wanted to blog more then I did. I only posted nine posts for the whole 40 days, but I also imagined the topics I chosed to be much more about balancing time between myself and being a mom and wife. Instead, it ended up being a massive spiritual journey, where I more or less disconnected from the blogging sphere, unless I posted, and really focused on living the series.

It also wasn’t an easy journey. I found that more than ever my Joy was being attacked as soon as I started the series. But after thinking about why I chose 40 days, and how I even prayed for the 40 days, and dedicated it to God, it all makes much more sense. The 40 day excursions that Jesus took, and the Israelites took (insert 40 years) wasn’t a cake walk, but a desert-like experience. Jesus went for 40 days without water or food for crying loud!

Granted, I had food and water, and wasn’t completly isolated, but it did feel comparable to a “desert” season. The fact that I spent more time living the series instead of writing it, made it more authentic because it gave me more time to disconnect online and really focus in on Jesus, the source of my joy.

So did I experience a huge transformation?  I mean, that was sort of my point in this 40 day adventure, to be transformed by it. People, such as friends from Church, have commented on the growth they’ve seen in my life. Maybe it’s related to this 40 day event, maybe not. I mean, how can we really see our own growth that happens on the inside? It’s so much easier for an outside friend to tell you then for yourself to see it.

But I’ve still done some hard thinking to probe whether transformation has taken place, and I’ve concluded that it’s my perspective that’s been transformed. My joy is an everyday gift that comes from no other source but Jesus himself.

You see, even though I’m a Christian I think I’ve believed in the past that if I focus on improving my outside self, my inside self will feel better, but it’s all empty and fruitless. “If I spend more time working out, or being pretty then I’ll feel better.” And while they might help some, they don’t give you that lasting joy.

All the things in my life that give me joy only do so because Jesus is in those everyday moments. When I play outside with my son I can see His glory all around me; I can see His work in the clouds, in the ocean, and in the air. When I count my blessings I know they’re from Him. I’ve experienced amazing freedom from my own shackles of high standards I’ve placed on myself, and it was all from Him.

My walk with Christ is a daily walk. Therefore my joy needs daily renewing. I can still lose it if I lose my focus, but when I live for Him; where I seek my purpose, worth and approval from Him every day I start to experience joy in the everyday, because my eyes are opened to the Jesus that’s in the everyday.  

May you be blessed by this same joy!

Amanda.

freedom

Since being pregnant with baby number two I’ve changed a lot. Obviously my body is working extra hard, and fatigue has been pretty evident. It was difficult for me to be okay with my fatigue, because with this fatigue came more naps and less productivity.

Not that I ever had it perfect before this pregnancy, but I felt like I was often “on top of it” and had a routine down that made me somewhat efficient. I didn’t feel a whole lot in the way of chaos or disorganization…most of the time.

Let’s just say I felt like the house has become a little crazier and the laundry a little more “behind” since this pregnancy. Somebody from the outside looking in might say, “relax, it’s really not a big deal…or, try having five kids,” etc, etc. And I get that in my mind, but I still struggled with not measuring up to who I use to be.

I know this is a temporary season, and more than anything I’ve just wanted to enjoy it. Not measuring up to the old me honestly gave way to feelings of depression, and inadequacies through and through. I eventually admitted all that I was feeling to the women’s ministry group I host at my house once a month.

Embarrassing as it was to admit, I somehow knew I needed to be honest, so that through the power of prayer I could find healing and release.

Shortly after, I decided to take action against all that I was feeling, and looked into ways I could combat depression. I started doing the usual things of making exercise a priority, taking my vitamins, eating right, getting outside for some good old vitamin d…

I knew I needed to act because after reading that depression releases not so good hormones to the developing baby, I didn’t want it to be an option. I read in my small research that some studies conclude that exercise works just as well as antidepressants.

So week by week I slowly became stronger, and happier. I really believe this was supernatural healing from answered prayers, and reaping the rewards of making good choices for my health both physically and emotionally.

Getting dressed before Asher woke up, rising before him, having the house in good order, and being on top of laundry just didn’t make my to-do list. Instead  I focused on exercising, getting dinner finished, looking after Asher, getting outside, alone time with God, and resting when I needed to. This all made for a successful day in my books. Exercise has become a very big priority to me, because I consider it part of my medicine, so why would I ever skip it?

Since letting go of my “high standards” I feel like a big old weight has been taken off my shoulders. I feel happy, and joyful, and all this simplifying I’ve done makes the extra things I get done like laundry and some house cleaning just that, extras. The weird thing is I actually do get more done when I exercise because of the extra energy, but my motive behind exercising isn’t so I can produce more but so I that I can be the healthiest Mom I can be to my family and the growing baby inside of me.

I really pray that if you are in a similar position that you too would find freedom and release with the help of prayer, and simplifying your life. God really does heal today, not just physically but emotionally too. I also want to encourage you to look after yourself first so that you can be the healthiest, happiest you. It may sound selfish, but to use the crashing airplane analogy, if you don’t give yourself oxygen first you won’t be able to help anyone when you’re dead. Likewise, you’re much more equipped to serve others if you feel fresh, healthy and happy. To get there you do need to prioritize yourself.

Standards, I think, should encourage us to be our best, but when they become unachievable, like mine became, they become stumbling blocks, suffocating, and guilt-inducers. I’m just so thankful that I’m free from the high standards and thankful for the prayers because God heard and acted.

Amanda.

 

Jabez

After reading The Prayer of Jabez, by Bruce Wilkinson, I was inspired to take on the 30 day challenge of praying the Jabez prayer for 30 days. I didn’t  mindlessly repeat the prayer day after day, but I tried to personalize the words to my life situation: “Lord bless me, our family, and home; Lord bless everything I put my hands to. Enlarge our family, and our home…”

After reading several reviews of the book (after I read it), I found out it’s a rather controversial book, and tagged with “the prosperity gospel” message. I guess I didn’t receive the book in that light. Jesus said go into all the world to share His message, so why wouldn’t He want to expand our territory so we can reach more people for Him?

Without going into a debate, I just want to share that this book really made me ready, and on the look out for all that God was doing (and going to do) in my life. It made me count my blessings.

blessings 059

1) Pregnancy, 2) Stronger Marriage, 3) More laughter at home, 4) More sleep, 5) Healing from chronic sinus issues, and 6) A fresh perspective as a Mom.

And really, I think it’s so important to take note of the blessings, and faithfulness God had shown in your life. If we don’t, we take Him for granted, and very soon forget about all of His goodness. I’m pretty sure that would be setting ourselves up for some discontentment with God and our own life. Where’s the joy in that?

After a few months of trying for baby number 2, pregnancy came during this challenge. Yay for enlarged territory! Other blessings included: A stronger marriage. It was crazy, as soon as I started to pray blessing over my marriage it just got that much stronger and happier. Seriously, this is my latest top advise for newlyweds: pray for your marriage! Laughter. It became more of a priority at our home, and more frequent as a result. Sleep. Our 10 month old finally learned how to sleep through the night, and I’ve been able to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, feeling more rested than ever. Healing from sinus issues I’d been struggling with for several months finally cleared up; and more than anything, I felt a renewed importance in my role as a Mom.

I can’t believe that this was all coincidence. Some people, even Christians, don’t believe in miracles or healings anymore…some would say we shouldn’t even ask for His blessing, but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been blessed because I’ve asked to be. It’s never been about me deserving of it or not, but it’s all from Jesus; His grace that he gives lavishly to any who would receive it.

How awesome, right?

Amanda.

 

God Pocket

I recently finished the book, The God Pocket by Bruce Wilkinson, you can find it here.

Oh my goodness, what an awesome read, and an awesome way to share the love of God in real life. So the basic premise of the book can be summed up in the tag line of the book: “He owns it. You carry it. Suddenly, everything changes.”

In other words, I prayed about an amount of money that I would set aside (this is separate from our tithing) and transfer it over to God (he owns it now), and I carry it in a “God Pocket” (I carry it in something other than my wallet); I dedicate it to the Lord, and I ask him to lead me to the person He wants me to give it to. Everything does change.

I waited for the nudge from God..the nudge that would signal this is the person.

It took about 2 or 3 weeks before I felt a real obvious nudge. I was beginning to wonder if I wasn’t alert enough to a “nudge.” I’m the person that likes clear, direct, no beating around the bush directions, otherwise it might just evade me.

In any case, it all happened when I was standing in the line at the dollar store. The women in front of me was clearly buying all her groceries at the dollar store, and seemed a little stressed. As she was paying for her items it became clear that she was paying with food stamps. *Nudge*…God has placed someone in need right in front of me…that was my first nudge! The second nudge came when I had finished paying for my items, and went back to my car…her car was but two cars over from mine.

I stepped out, and asked if I could speak to her, “Excuse me, can I speak to you for a second?” Totally not something I would normally do by the way!

I told her how every month I had been beginning to set aside a certain amount of money aside for the Lord to lead me to someone he wanted to me to give it to. It’s no longer my money, but His, and I believe He put you on my heart to give this money to you.

She paused for a bit, then took her sunglasses off. I thought she was going to say I was crazy or get mad, but instead she had tears in her eyes because she was so deeply touched. She said she understood when she got a nudge from God, and that she couldn’t take my Money. I gently reminded her it wasn’t mine, but God’s. That’s the key, giving the credit back to Him. She graciously took the money.

I was able to tell her that God loved her so much, and that Jesus is there for her to reach out to. Evidently she had been really struggling. She  shared how her son had recently died at 15, and that this was one of the first breakthroughs she had in a while. We hugged a couple of times, in a real, heart-felt way, and my baby, who was on my hip the whole time rubbed his hand on her arm.

She was truly touched. I couldn’t believe this God pocket actually worked. That God used little old me to bless someone. Did I mention it was only 20 dollars! I wanted to start small, but now I only want to give more. I cannot express how deep my joy was because of this experience, and what a tangible way to share the love of God.

When I gave her a gift from God, her heart became open to receiving His love. I suppose I could have solely told her about Jesus, but I think I would have got a much different response.

Anyways, I’m excited for many more stories that will transpire from the God Pocket. If God can use me, thick-headed me, He can use you too. Truly, sharing the love of God through financial giving really is a joy-ride.

Amanda.

 

 

 

the Grant life

comfort 003

If I had to describe my style in one word it would be comfortable. I think it also includes the words classic, feminine, with a little bit of rugged (note the plaid, and occasional carhartt).

I’d like to think joy and comfort go hand in hand, and make getting dress less of a pain and more of an ease. There’s no worry involved or fuss.

And when I dress comfortable I feel most like myself. That’s why leggings, riding boots, flats, and wedges call me home so often.

The picture taken is a prime example of my style. There’s comfort ( leggings, flannel, and a tank), but there’s also some of the feminine (necklace to add interest); black leggings are a classic, and so is plaid but it’s also kind of rugged.

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Flannel: Walmart / Tank: Target / Necklace: American Eagle / Leggings: Old Navy

It felt so good wearing this outfit. I put hardly any thought into it, and didn’t care if it measured up to the Pinterest standard of fashion.

All this to say, I want this scripture passage to reflect my style:

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” Matthew 6:28-30.

No worry, no laboring….afterall, it’s just clothing, right?

Amanda.

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