I've always struggled with fear and worry and anxiety. I know how paralyzing it all can be. I know how quickly your mind can turn on you and convince you to dwell on worst case scenarios. I know how silent sins can cripple in so many ways.
But there is great hope. There is always hope.
And that hope is found in Jesus. When you trust in Him and follow Him, He is with you always. And His presence brings peace and contentment and joy. He has the authority to tell us to be strong and courageous and to not fear or worry. His Word is Truth; He is completely trustworthy and good; there is power in His name.
You can face each day without fear because Jesus is on His throne and He works all things for the good of those who love Him and for His glory. No matter what the circumstances look like or tragedies come your way, God is still good. You can search the Scriptures to be reminded of His past faithfulness. And you can hear the testimonies of believers to take notice of how He is working in our time.
Dwell on the graces you've been given and your mind will turn from being fearful into being grateful. Dwell on the promises of God and your heart will turn from being anxious to being calmed.
And when you do fear, speak about it out loud. When you tell trusted others, you'll be reminded that you are not alone in those silent struggles. Community helps to cast them out. And others will fight for you in prayer when you are struggling. There is always help and always hope.
Jesus will be with you. You can trust Him, in the good times and in the hard times. He knows all you need and will take care of you. Go forward each day with that confidence.
Constantly Casting Aside Fear,
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, now about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither so nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single house to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
I love the way you already appreciate and love music. It makes you smile, and it makes you dance. And watching you dance, so free and full of life and joy, is always a reminder to celebrate the good, to not take ourselves too seriously, and to make room for spontaneous fun. It never even enters your mind that you shouldn't dance when music plays. There's such a sweet innocence about it all that minsters to me.
So keep dancing, sweet ones. The world needs more celebration. The world needs your pure happiness. Continue to not worry about what others think, just go on dancing. Continue to dance even if you're the only one. Because you are making a difference. You're being brave without even knowing it, and you're inspiring others with your whimsy. We need to see life through your eyes.
Dancing With You,
If you're anything like me, you will have a desire to be productive, to get things done, to check everything off your to-do list. But I've had to learn that it is good and right to often lay aside tasks in order to see and serve the people in front of me. I cannot be fully present with people if I'm constantly choosing to tackle projects.
The truth is, the projects and lists will always be there. There will always be something else to do. And obviously, we need to steward the things and time we've been given well. We need to work with excellence and have productive times. This is not an excuse for laziness. But for someone who is prone to working too much, I need the reminder to choose people over projects. It is in choosing to see people, serve people, love people, be with people that you fully live and embrace what it is to be a relational being. There is great joy found in being present with people.
Projects can often wait. Take notice of what needs to be a priority in the moment. Be willing to go to sleep with tasks unfinished. Because if you've played hard and loved well and listened intently it is more than worth it.
Constantly Learning This,
It is such a temptation to be productive constantly and to work tirelessly. And when there are times your to-do list stretches on, it would seem that taking time to rest would be the opposite of what you need to do. But setting apart a day to rest from work, having a Sabbath, isn't just a good thought. It is a command from the Lord.
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."
And, just like all His commands, it is for our good. Just like all His commands, it is not restrictive but brings freedom. Taking a Sabbath is needed. It allows all of you to rest. It gives your soul space to breathe. Your physical and mental, emotional and spiritual health improves. When you're able to just be, and not do, you're reminded that you can't earn love, acceptance, worth. You're reminded that striving can cease, life can be enjoyed, and community is necessary. Sabbath takes your mind off of the work you have and sets it back on the work Jesus has already done. Sabbath is so important and such a sweet gift from the Lord.
So know you have permission to rest. Be still. Relax. Have fun. Smile. Eat. Laugh. Worship. Gather. Just be.
Making Rest A Priority,
"And he said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.'"
As you go throughout life, be intentional about including others. Often people are left out or under appreciated, excluded or overlooked. And it is just really easy to get caught up in your own life happenings. Your own busy will easily distract you. So if you take the time to see those around you, reach out to them, remember what they are going through, and include them it will make lasting impacts.
Consider others and your own life will be improved as you take the focus off yourself. Make your circle bigger and wider and you'll add so much beauty to your life. Challenge yourself to seek out relationships and initiate friendships. It's not always easy, but it is simple. It will take you out of your comfort zone; it will require you to be thoughtful and intentional. But it is worth it and makes life greater, lovelier, and more purposeful.
Invite others into your life. Be vulnerable and go deep. Choose to include.
Growing As An Includer,
Yes, life can often be hard. Trials and temptations come rushing in. But no matter what you face, you can choose to enjoy life. Laugh as much as you can. Be known for smiling. A smile can brighten someone's day and laughter is contagious.
Never downplay the positive influence you can make simply by being cheerful. It will do your own heart good and it will impact those around you. Sometimes the simple things in life make the biggest difference.
Your days will be filled with joy and hope when you simply express a little happiness. Even if it's just one tiny moment in the day, that moment matters and impacts your perspective throughout the rest of the day. Laughter truly is great medicine. It can help ease stress and help improve your mood. It can help your mind rest from all the thoughts that fly through it each day. Smiles and laughter really are universal and not bound by language. And they can foster some wonderful bonds with others.
So choose to be people of good cheer. Celebrate the good and have fun, smile habitually and laugh often.
Learning To Laugh More,
This life will quickly show you how weak you are. Weaknesses are revealed by others, by circumstances, and by our own judgement. But the Word has good news for you, for me, for us all. There is One who is completely strong. There is One who fully equips us and provides strength for us.
When you face hardships and trials, confusion and chaos, know that Jesus will give you strength to persevere. He is ready to strengthen you for the whatever you face. You can continue to press on when you are in Him, when you have trusted Him.
"I can do all things through him who gives me strength."
When you face days or seasons when you are overwhelmed and tired and barely hanging on, you can keep walking forward because it is in those very times when He increases your strength and allows you to not faint.
"Have you not known? Have you not heard?
Jesus lovingly and graciously provides all that you need. The everlasting God sees you and knows you. He knows what you will face each day and welcomes your prayers for help and perseverance and strength. So when you are tired and worn down, just go to Jesus. He is waiting for you.
Strong in Christ,
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble."
"So, whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
I want to instill in you a hard work ethic. But the older I get, the more I realize that working hard can lead to burn out. It can become an obsession or even an idol. Working hard can easily turn into striving to earn approval and worth.
So instead of teaching you to work hard, I want to teach you to work with excellence. Don't work harder, just do your work well. Whatever work is in front you, decide to do it the best you can and then be content with the outcome.
Your worth is not determined by your work. You are loved regardless of what you do. And working well, working with excellence, comes out of a place of knowing those things. You can work with excellence when you know that doing your best, doing what only you are capable of, is enough. You don't have to endlessly try harder or exhaust yourself continually striving to do more or perform better. Working harder is a never ending cycle. Working with excellence allows you to be content and take time to rest.
So just do your work well. Don't work harder; work with excellence.
Always Reminding Myself Of This,
When the days are hard and life is overwhelming, know Jesus stands ready to receive your burdens. He will give your weary soul rest. Just go to Him; just bring yourself to Him. He is ready for you. He wants to care for you.
Nothing is too big for Him to handle and nothing is too small for Him to regard. He sees every tear you cry and hears every prayer you pray. He only asks you to come. And He will provide the rest, the relief, the help.
May you always remember this truth and be encouraged by it. You are never alone with your burdens. You don't have to keep holding them. Go to Jesus. Give them to Him. Give yourself to Him. You can trust Him, fully and completely.
Continually Going To Him,
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
You will quickly learn how powerful words are. They can easily make a profound impact on a moment, a day, or even a life. Not everyone you encounter will choose their words wisely. Some may even intentionally use their words to harm. But we always have a choice in the words we speak.
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
I pray you recognize the amazing ability you have to be an encourager, a cheerleader for others. When you choose to use words that build others up it truly is life giving.
Be an advocate for those around you. Lift someone's spirits. Make someone smile. Cheer someone on. You never know the impact simple words of encouragement can make on someone's heart. A word of encouragement is such a gift. Give that gift generously and often.
Cheering You On,
"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."