Wednesday, November 16, 2022

a few things I've learned in the ways of personal growth and giving back

 


Happy Wednesday, friends! I've been looking for inspiration here on my blog, which is why I shared what I did yesterday and it's where I got the idea for today's post. I thought I'd share a few ways that I've grown spiritually, personally, physically, mentally and emotionally. These are just some things I've learned in my years of walking closely with Jesus and most of them were learned the hard way. I hope today's post encourages you! 


Spiritually: I have had several close friendships with women who are older than me both in years and in the faith. These are always my favorite types of friendships, because older women are so very wise. I hope to be just like them when I'm their age and be the inspiration to others that they have been to me. Before I begin, I want to share a Bible verse. 




The verse actually says this: Gray hair is a glorious crown; it is found in the ways of righteousness. Isn't that beautiful? It paints such a picture for me! One of my closest friends who was near and dear to me is now in Heaven with the Lord, but I hold all of her wisdom close in my heart. I would meet with my friend Eileen every two weeks, from about nine in the morning until lunchtime. We would sit and get to know each other and share stories, and we always ended our time praying together. It's through her life and the lives of those other dear ladies that I've learned that we are to never stay stagnant in our faith journey. Every single year that the Lord gives us on earth, we should grow closer to Him with each one that passes. 


One thing I do is to take a step back and evaluate my life from time to time. I think on my relationship with Jesus and I always wonder if there's anyway that I can grow even closer to Him. There are times when I go through periods of being in a spiritual rut. It's never God, but it's always me that has moved away from Him, even if unintentionally. I love what James 4:8a says: Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. I have experienced that time and again throughout my life. So as a year draws to a close, I really like to spend time praying about ways I can grow spiritually in the following year. This usually involves me making a decision on how I want to read through His word in the new year. I do try to read through the Bible every year, because as much as I love to read, I should always love His word the most, and if I make time for books and not the Bible, what does that say about me? So, that's my reasoning and it's also so that I can know Him more. I also value knowing His word so that I can separate the truth from the lies that about in our world. If we don't know the truth of His word, we won't be able to discern the lies that the enemy throws at us through varying circumstances.


Personally: Without getting too personal here, I am always working on our marriage from my side. I easily find myself being a nagging wife and I can also tend to want to gripe about something. (Keeping it real here, friends.) I think I will probably fight this battle until the day I die. Because of that, I pray to guard against such times. There is no perfect marriage, friends. If one looks perfect on Instagram or on a blog, know that it's not. Everyone always paints the very best picture, but it's also important to share in our struggles with an online audience. (I just felt weird using that word, but if you're a blogger or someone with one follower on social media, know that you are an influencer, even if you don't think that's the case.) That being said, I try to never compare my marriage with other marriages. I used to beat myself up that Todd and I have never had a time of family devotion together. I finally let that go, though and at this point, I say to each their own. I work on my own stuff and I trust that Todd works on his. I will say about this that we tried to do this over the years with the boys as well, and it just never worked. It worked better for me to have my own personal quiet time each day and I had lots of options for the boys to pick from for their quiet times. Sometimes one or two of them would want to sit with me, so we would share in that time, but it didn't always look like that. I tried to let them lead on this, in order to create habits and an eventual lifestyle. They did  have quiet times a lot, but they also missed a lot. God isn't legalistic, thank goodness and I know He doesn't hold it against them that they didn't spend enough time with Him. Now, from experience I know that the more time I spend with Him, the closer I feel to Him, but the opposite of that is also true. That being said, I don't think any of them are walking very closely to Jesus, but I know they know Him, that they love Him and that they will be with me in eternity someday. 





Back to my marriage—I don't try to force Todd into things, I don't try to make him someone he's not, I don't ask him to do unreasonable things (except last week when I asked for help with Christmas decorations—note to self: NEVER AGAIN), I don't expect him to do things to satisfy my need of us looking or being a certain "way" to people around us. Let's face it: we're all adults here and we're each responsible for our own selves. He does so many of those things, but he does them on his own terms without me nagging him half to death. I always need the reminder of this verse from Proverbs 25:24—Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a nagging wife. I'm also always working on other more private areas of our marriage, things that are unmentionable here, but know that we are always a work in progress and FAR from perfect. One thing we can both say: the Lord is good and He has been faithful to us. Praise His holy name.


Physically: UGH. This one makes me cringe. I don't know that I'm ever going to be a different size than I am right now and I have to keep reminding myself that I am okay with this and that Todd is too and tells me often how beautiful I am. It's not about a size or number, it's about my health and the way I feel. I do have the occasional ache and pain, but for the most part I am just fine and healthy as a horse. I do take vitamins and nutrients and as of right now have to take zero prescribed medications. I take vitamins C and D3, Calcium and Zinc as often as I remember. 


I am always mindful of a few things as I grow older, though. For instance, both my mom and my dad have an issue with sodium, so because I know that will most likely be the case for me someday, I rarely add salt to things these days. If there is a low or no sodium option, I will always pick that. I don't eat too many things containing MSG, either, because that's also something that is high in sodium. I try to stay away from carbs as often as I am able, but I don't beat myself up if I cave. I try not to indulge in sweets too often, but if I'm craving something, I have to eat it, otherwise I'll never stop thinking about it. I try to walk on the treadmill occasionally, but if I'm being truthful, I suck at this. I just rolled my eyes at myself. I am fairly active, though and have no trouble bounding up the dreadful stairs at work or the normal ones here at home. I am up and down them multiple times daily and I have no issue with them at all. Now, my knee may scream because of the arthritis that's in one, but it eventually gets better. 


Mentally: The world is often a dreadful place. So are all the mainstream media outlets! Because of that, I decided to stop watching the news several years ago and I've not once regretted my decision. We live in one of the top five most dangerous cities to live in, in America (I'm half an hour away from Memphis) and if I focused on any of that, I would be a miserable human being. Also, do you know how much I used to love The Today Show???? I did. I hate it now. Detest it, actually! I get mad about it occasionally, but I digress. I said all of that to say that I now receive my news through email. I subscribed to sites like The Pour Over News, Epoch Times, The Gospel Coalition and some others whose names I can't remember. I do not regret this decision and encourage you to try it like I did! I do not feel like I live in a hole, either, but that I'm well informed. (For the most part.) Because of all of this mentioned above and because God made me this way, I have always been a very positive, look-on-the-bright-side-of-things type gal. Well, maybe not always, but definitely since I've walked closely with Jesus. I focus on Him, all that I have to be thankful for and I am always looking for the good in every situation. (It can be found!) I know I grate on some people's nerves, but it's just who I am and I can't help that I'm almost always in a great mood and that I genuinely love life with Jesus. I try to always have something to look forward to and even if I don't, I try to enjoy all the little moments. This is the reason why great books and Hallmark movies make my heart so happy. The Lord has given me the kind of joy that can only come from Him, my friend, which is why I always ask you: do you know Him? I am always right here if you ever want to talk! My email address is allboys@gmail.com. 


Now, I will say that I do occasionally have the type of day that I am down in the dumps. I feel sorry for myself, or I'm sad or emotional about something, and that's perfectly normal for all of us to walk through tines like that. The difference is that it's not normal or good to "sit" or "wallow" in those feelings for too long. I often pray my way out of this type of mood, or I'll sit and start writing out things in my journal that I am thankful for. When I take my eyes off of myself or my situation and put the focus back on the Lord, my perspective shifts to a healthier view. And on that note...


Emotionally: I try to not to say things like, "I feel like" or "that hurt my feelings"....because I have the opinion that feelings and emotions are from the pit of hell. I don't say that lightly! I try to realistic about everything in life, which is why I don't often set goals for myself, because realistically, I know that I'll let myself down. I choose not to live life that way and because of that, I am a more joyful person. I often focus on my perspective as well, and try to keep it all in check. There's nothing like a good dose of reality to snap me out of a certain mood! Things could always be worse! Usually they're not. Dad always says quotes something his teacher used to say—the basics in life are food, water, shelter, clothing, and medically necessary heath care. If we have those things, then we have everything! How privileged and fortunate we are to live in a country like ours, even if it's in the alarming state it is. It helps to keep a Biblical worldview about the world we live in. We are a privileged nation and have been for many, many years. Remembering all of this and by participating in charitable organizations, all helps me to be the type of person I am today. I threw in the charitable organization part, because it's good to give to others and it's biblical...do you recall the story of the lady who had nothing and gave everything? Jesus told the rich Pharisees that her offering meant more to Him than their, because she gave from a pure heart. Many of you may be looking into doing something like this during this holiday season and wondering where to start. I'll include some ideas below, but think about doing something for the good of someone else. We've raised our family to live like this and I pray they continue on in that tradition when they're married with their own families.


Some charities to consider:


Locally, it's good to donate to anyone that is underprivileged or to a place that takes in drug addicts or alcoholics. You can donate clothing, you can put some money into the bucket of that Salvation Army bell ringer, you can participate in an angel tree,  you can volunteer to serve at a shelter, collect coats and other winter accessories for the homeless, or offer to buy a homeless person a meal. I know someone who kept little kits in their vehicle to pass out when they would see someone that was homeless. Each kit would contain a little bit of cash (under $10, as most shelters require a small fee to enter), water, some snack with protein, a blanket, some hand warmers, hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes, fingernail clippers and a small Bible or devotional tract. One year my amazing husband collected sleeping bags, blankets, coats, hats and gloves for homeless people and we handed them out along with meals in downtown Memphis on his birthday. Don't tell him I told you that, he would be irritated with me. 


I love the idea of paying for some lunches at the local schools as well, especially for kids they know that could use the financial help or who may occasionally want an extra treat from the cafeteria line. You all know I used to be a lunch lady, right? I was the one in charge of all the students while they ate lunch at my sons' elementary school. My heart always leans toward those precious babies!


Nationally, you can never go wrong with donating to certain causes and organizations like St. Jude Children's Hospital here in Memphis or to another children's hospital, or to an Alzheimer's foundation. I mention those, because they're the ones closest to my heart, but there are many more options. There are also wonderful places like Life Choices and One By One ministries that help women who have made the choice to choose life for their babies. They're always needing diapers, formula, baby clothing and blankets, etc.


Internationally, you can never go wrong with Compassion International. There are children all over the world who do not have the basics in life and your monthly support provides clean water, food and a wonderful Christian education for them and for their families. 


Look around closer to home, though. There are so many underprivileged children who need to feel the love that we can offer in a tangible way. You can call local churches and offer to help them pay bills for someone elderly, you could do a good deed to someone sick or elderly, you can provide meals for them or even an entire Christmas for a family in need! There are always people in need and you never have to look far. 


I hope these things inspire you today! More importantly, I pray they point you to Jesus. Well, I've gone on for way too long, friends. Thanks for reading my blog! Love to all. 

12 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing so much, Jennifer! As much as sharing the day to day is enjoyable, sharing the more important yet talked about less topics is refreshing. Honesty is the best policy is such a cliche but it's true. We can write anything we want to online to make our lives look better than they are or to write in such a way that we WISH our lives looked like. When I read posts that share struggles and things that no one would make up, I appreciate it. I think the topics you touched on here are important, even vital ones and I like how you shared areas in which you could improve and your strengths as well. Definitely a lot to think about and to be inspired by as far as your suggestions in this post. Keep up the good work, friend! You are making a difference with your written words!!

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  2. So grateful I have found you and your blog- you are my people for sure! Thank you for sharing and bearing your soul- you live beautifully! XO

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  3. I can relate to so much of this. I also stopped watching the news but don't live in a hole. I am scrolling less social media, too, and trying to reach out and make real connectiosn with phone calls and texts. I sometimes wish Tom were more social, excited, etc., but I also appreciate his steady and dependable manner. We just can't change other people and we wouldn't want to.

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  4. Thank you Maria! You are so right about honesty being the best policy. I do gloss over things from time to time with all the "fluff", but I also really try to keep it real. None of us are perfect, so why pretend??? I don't have the mental capacity for that- trying to be someone I'm not. I appreciate your kind words! You have no idea how much they mean to me, and your encouragement. Everyone always needs to be encouraged!

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  5. Thank you for that sweet encouragement, Holly! I'm so thankful I found your blog as well! I like what you said about living beautifully...that sounds so inspirational. We're all just here trying our best, aren't we? 🤎

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  6. Amy, I'm on social media less too! That's one I forgot to mention- how as fun as it can be, it can also cause one to compare her life with another and that's never a great idea. I like face to face interaction if possible, then a call next, then a text if they're the kind of person who doesn't enjoy a phone call. I love that my best friend will ALWAYS pick up her phone when I call, unless she's talking to a family member and then she'll text to let me know she'll call me right back. I think it's normal to wish for certain traits in someone...it's hard when one in a marriage is an introvert and the other is an extrovert. I try to mix it up some and go to things I know Todd enjoys every so often, otherwise he'd be bored to death. That can be tricky to work through! You're right, though...we really wouldn't want to change someone, because then it wouldn't be them. I hope your day is great, friend!

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  7. I can relate to so much of this, especially about marriage and the news. Several years ago, I started being convicted that things didn't always have to be "my way" in our marriage. Now if it is something I don't have a strong opinion about, I always ask "What do you think" or "Whatever you'd like to do." It's a work in progress! I also don't watch as much news and used to love the Today show and CBS Morning Show. Now they both grate on my nerves. Everything they say seems to have to make a statement about culture or politics. Thanks for your heartfelt post today!

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  8. I am so encouraged - and inspired - by these types of posts where you share your heart....and are willing to share so openly. I struggle with this - the idea of "being vulnerable" - both in my writing and in person. Like my dad, I am incredibly private. Nevertheless, I so appreciate those who are able to do so - and in such a way that is helpful, challenging, and thought-provoking. Lots of things for me to consider in my own life! Thanks much, my friend!!

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  9. Jennifer...this is great and honest and so encouraging. You are beautiful, you are taking care of yourself, and your husband agrees, and that is worth so much. Enjoy your day friend!

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  10. I love what you said, Tanya- that marriage is a work in progress. That's so true! About marriages and us in general, right? I'm always grateful for the grace of God as He refines us and molds us more into His image. Grace upon grace! Thank you for your words of encouragement! ❤

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  11. Jennifer, thank you for your encouraging and wonderfully kind words. I do think being vulnerable with people is something most of us struggle with...I really do try to live life like an open book, though, mostly because I always need people to pray for me! I do often think of that verse that talks about how the prayers of the righteous availeth much...it's so true. I have family members who are very private as well, so I certainly understand that struggle. I'm glad you're encouraged today! Much love!

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  12. Thank you for that, Marilyn! I hope you had a good day today! ❤

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