path OF peace

I heard a sermon that really resonated with me and I’m sharing the overall thought process here. The reason it resonated with me so much is because it is probably one of the biggest sources of struggle for me. If someone asks me what I want most in life, it’s not anything of material value. It’s peace.

Anyway, before reading this, stop and get in your mind:

What is the greatest source of stress in your life?

Think about that thing as you read through this.

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Whatever brings you the most stress, will also usually determine how you seek out peace.

God will bring you peace, but it’s not always going to look the way you think it will.

First…

Surrender your expectation of perfection.

God promises us peace.

He doesn’t promise us ease or convenience.

Peace isn’t found in a place.

Peace isn’t found in a set of circumstances that is problem free.

Peace won’t be found in people.

The problem isn’t the problem! The problem isn’t what is causing you stress.

The enemy of your peace is your insistence on perfection!

It is impossible to experience peace when you are expecting perfection.

Psalm 23:4

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

He doesn’t deliver me from it, He meets me in it. He will guide us with the light in the valley. He didn’t take us out of the valley.

I’m at peace on the path.

Why?

Not because I’m not going through it, but because I’m not going through it alone. There is somebody with me that is greater than what is against me.

Think about this.

If peace comes from people, people can take it away. If peace comes from situations, situations can change and take it away.

The same person that you let steal your peace, is still that person. You can’t change people so you can’t let your peace depend on people.

I’ll have peace when _______________.

It’s not the path to peace. Because that means that the peace is far off, out there, somewhere.

Peace.

Stop waiting for it.

Start walking in it.

Watch the whole sermon here:

Recovering People Pleaser

I’m a, what I like to call, recovering people pleaser. I no longer feel bad for saying no to things that I don’t think I should do. I no longer give of my precious time to those that are negative and toxic. I no longer force my kids to be around people that haven’t actively been a part of their lives. I decided to stop explaining and defending myself to people who will only see from their chosen perspective anyway. I no longer make decisions based on how others might think of me. I now make myself a priority rather than being the last on the list. And you know what? I don’t even feel bad about it!

Is There Really a Choice?

I’ll be honest, there have been several times where I truly wanted to throat punch someone who said to me that happiness is a choice. I often thought to myself, “how in the world is it as easy as saying that I choose to be happy when I feel so bad?” I have even told myself several times, “just make a decision to be happy!”

Ugh, if only it were that easy!

It didn’t matter how many times I told myself that I was going to be happy, the weight of the reality I was facing and the feelings I felt weighed more in comparison to that choice.

I finally realized though, it really is as simple as making a choice. I can wake up each day and entertain all of the feelings I am faced with, all of the thoughts floating around in my head or, I could just tell myself that none of those things matter and it was going to be a good day. Now, I might have to tell myself that very same thing 20 times in that same day but, the attitude I was choosing was much better than the alternative!

Long story short, here is what I tell myself now: “Joni, you either trust God or you don’t.” So yeah, it’s not easy but I am making a conscious decision every day to put my trust in the one who actually has a say in what happens!

One day at a time. Sometimes, one hour or even, one minute at a time.

Be Still

I’ve been pretty quiet lately. There is a lot going on in my life; a lot of changes. In the midst of the chaos I am finding myself and allowing my faith to be reconstructed. It was necessary to step away from things as I knew them, especially spiritually. From a distance I was able to look at things with different eyes; to see things as they really were.

I will share more about that process later but for now it’s simply time to, be still.

Bringing Light to Dark Places

How do you start your day?  Coffee?  Shower? Excercise? Excited to get your day started?Hitting snooze 15 times? Dreading what is ahead?  To be perfectly honest (and this makes me cringe to say this) each morning starts with dread; the moment I open my eyes.  At least, it has been that way.  I would wake up and feel this terrible feeling come over me; a heaviness that I couldn’t explain if I tried.  I would drag myself out of bed, only because I had to because of the kids, and that feeling stayed with me; all day. I felt sad and anxious, overwhelmed and tired; SO TIRED.  I was walking through my day in an absolute fog.  It has been like that longer than I would like to admit.

So, if you can at all relate to what I described, you can understand what it’s like to struggle with grief and/or depression and anxiety.  If you can’t relate, I am telling you, you have something to be extremely grateful for!  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  Whether what you are feeling is passed down from family, is seasonal, is situational, is complicated grief, PTSD, and so on… It’s a struggle and it is a very real thing that sometimes has a negative sort of stigma attached to it; which is beyond unfortunate.

Thinking on this subject, especially that part about the negative stigma, I started doing research for statistics out of curiosity.  I first started looking at numbers surrounding people affected by mental health and they are staggering!  I dug a little deeper until I was stopped at the part that just broke my heart.  Suicide.  This is the reason that the stigma needs to be changed!  Mental health is a very important thing and if not taken care of, those with poor mental health could end up in a situation where there is no turning back.  Some of the statistics I read about were relating to those with mental health issues that are left untreated.  Those numbers were just plain scary to me!  Why??? I can only guess that it’s mostly a result of unnecessary embarrassment or shame.  And guess what? I realized that I get it!!!

It took me a long time to realize that I needed help for my anxiety and depression.  Once I knew I needed help, I still didn’t pursue i.  I can’t answer why for everyone else but I can open up and be honest about myself; that will be in my next post.

Some statistics about suicide:

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America
  • 44, 965 (Americans) commit suicide each year
  • For every one completed suicide, there are 25 attempts
  • On average there are 123 suicides each day
  • It is expected that the 2017 statistics will show a significant increase
  • Children committing suicide is becoming more prevalent

This cannot be okay, it just can’t!  This is what I call a crisis.  My heart is burdened to get involved somehow but I’m not sure what that will look like.  For now, I can openly and without shame, talk about it.  We have to talk about this and bring light to those dark places so that more people will feel like they can get the help they need!

Message of Peace

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Ps. 147:3

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Ps. 34:18

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, yes, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Is. 41:10

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Ps. 55:22

Know that He loves you, He cares about what you’re walking through, every single thing. And He hasn’t left you, not ever. Praying that you’ll have a fresh glimpse of His Presence as He’s bringing you through, to the other side of the grief.

Dear God,

Some days feel too hard. We’re hurting. Struggling. Fighting fear and worry at every turn. Thank you in the midst of it all, you haven’t left us to fend for ourselves. Forgive us for doubting you are there. Forgive us for thinking you’ve forgotten. Forgive us for believing we somehow know the better way.

You are fully trustworthy. You are All Powerful. You are Able. You are Lord over every situation no matter how difficult it may seem. You are Healer and will never waste the grief we carry today. You will use all things for good in some way. Anything is possible with you. Nothing is too difficult for you.

We pray for those who grieve today. We ask for your comfort to surround those who weep. We pray for the peace of your presence to cover our minds and thoughts, as you remind us, the enemy can never steal us out of your hands. He never has the final say over our lives. We are kept safe in your presence forever, whether in life or in death.

We thank you that your ways are higher than our ways and your thoughts are bigger than our thoughts.

We lay it all down at your feet, every burden, every care. Believing that is the safest place for it to be.

We love you Lord, we need your fresh grace.

In the Powerful Name of Jesus, Amen.