Category Archives: Life

Calm in the Chaos

I don’t like chaos. It’s something I guard against. I don’t like to be around large groups of people very often or very long. If my kids get wound up, I lovingly instruct them to bring it down a notch or go be crazy in another room. I’m as careful as I can be to make sure our family schedule has regular times built in where we’re not running around to and from lessons and events like chickens with our heads cut off. Some types of chaos are controllable.

Sometimes life has seasons of chaos that are hard to avoid though, right? For example, when you decide to move to a new place, you have weeks or months of fixing up your current place to put on the market, cleaning like a madman before a showing, emails galore with your realtor, and road trips to house hunt. Exhausting.

Or, what about those baby/toddler years? Years of sleep-deprived chaos before the kids are old enough to go to the bathroom by themselves and sleep through the night. Exhausting.

The newest season of chaos for me and my husband, Chip https://chipmattis.com/, has been writing. He wrote a children’s book (a beautiful father/daughter story called “Under the Dancing Tree,” available at Amazon, here ), and I have a middle grade novel coming out in May (so exciting)!

Before this past year of writing and learning about the book publishing process, I never would have dreamed all that is required of authors. I mean, if you want to write a book, you have to really mean it. Writing is the easy part. The fun part. The time commitment and mental commitment of the rest of the process is no joke. Chaos, if you’re not careful.

So I’m trying to be careful. There are a million things I could be doing at any given moment. It becomes a deliberate process of making choices and prioritizing. It’s probably similar with your job, right? However it transfers to your life, I’m sure you can relate to what I’m saying.

So how do we guard against chaos when it becomes a bigger matter than simply saying “no” to activities?

I think the real answer is so simple it’s maddeningly difficult: refuse to participate in the chaos. This might sound impossible when you examine your life. After all, we still have things to do. Things we’re responsible for. Commitments we’ve made.

Yes. And we need to honor our commitments and fulfill our responsibilities. But there are always things we can say “no” to. One of the main things we can say “no” to is letting our minds be overwhelmed by the chaos around us.

Just as marriage is choosing to love your spouse every day, living from a place of calm means choosing to steady our minds every day.

But how? Well, I know I can’t do it alone, and I bet you can’t either. I need Jesus every single day.

We have to believe His promises. There are many, but three come to mind in particular:

 Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
He’s offering us supernatural peace! It’s un-understandable, it’s so amazing! Accept it.

 Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Not “I might,” I’ll perhaps,” or “maybe,” but “I WILL give you rest.” That sounds like a promise to me.

 James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Thank goodness we have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside us to make the devil flee! That’s powerful stuff!

So the next time we find our minds being overcome by the chaos around us, let’s close our eyes, however briefly (or lock yourself into the bathroom for five minutes like I’m prone to doing…), and speak these truths out loud to remind not only ourselves, but our enemy, of these promises.

Our hearts and minds belong to Jesus, and the devil (and the stress and chaos he brings) has to flee. Praise God for that!

Do you have any tried and true methods for combating chaos? If so, I’d love to hear about them! I’m always looking for new tools for my tool belt. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Quick update on me:
My book, “Power Up,” is nearing the end of the editing process, which doesn’t make me sad, haha! Cover art design will happen in April, and by May, we should have a real book! Meanwhile, I’m so proud of my husband for his new release, “Under the Dancing Tree.” You really should check it out at the link above; you won’t regret it. I predict it will become a modern day classic, along the lines of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”

8 Tips for Retaining Your Holiday Sanity

Obligations and traditions abound this time of year. There are parties and gatherings galore. Trust me, I understand the struggle! But before you let the holidays overwhelm you:

Consider these eight tips for retaining your sanity in the middle of all the holiday hubbub.

Follow these tips to optimize your enjoyment of the season and ensure that you have time to focus on the most important part—celebrating the gift of Jesus.

  1. Get the most important things on your calendar NOW. This includes your main get-togethers, any special holiday choirs or performances that you want to attend, etc.
  2. Make a budget for gifts and use cash. When you run out of cash, you’re out. That’ll make you think twice before getting that second gift for your mom just because “it’s sooo cute!”
  3. Discuss price limits with family and friends now. Just because so-and-so always spends $50 per person doesn’t mean you should. Propose something new—maybe a five or ten dollar limit. (And don’t underestimate Dollar Tree…they’ve got some good stuff, people.) Or if you’re the crafty type, propose only homemade items (cookie mixes in jars are always winners).
  4. Just say no. If you’re like me, you can’t be at every holiday function without stressing yourself out. Don’t feel bad declining invitations. If you need to, put “rest” on your calendar and then when people ask if you’re free, say, “I’m sorry, I’ve already got something on my calendar that evening!”
  5. Eat as healthily as you can. This is an easy one to let slide, but honestly—we just feel better when we eat better! Give yourself an advantage by drinking lots of water and eating your vegetables. You’ll minimize those pesky stress headaches and feel even better about your choices when you do occasionally indulge in holiday foods.
  6. Remember, everyone has different thresholds for busyness. Respect yours and respect others’. They may or may not do the same for you, but at least you can do your part to be aware of your needs before you’re completely frazzled.
  7. Simplify where you can. Yes, I know some traditions call for going all out. But cut corners where you can. This is the perfect time of year to spend a little extra (if you can) on convenience foods…prechopped onions for example. Or do what my mom has been doing for years—roast the turkey a day ahead, carve it and put it in a dish with a little broth and covered in foil, then warm it in the oven before you serve it. No huge mess right before dinner!
  8. Reject chaos. Cut back enough to find peace and JOY in Jesus this holiday season.

Let JOY be our goal.

Let JESUS be our guide.

And let common sense and boundaries prevent us from engaging in the chaos that threatens to steal our holidays. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas!

Feel free to drop me a comment—let me know your thoughts or let me know YOUR favorite time/sanity saving tip around the holidays! And don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t yet so you can get the latest posts delivered straight to your inbox! Thanks for reading!!

 

3 Ways to Pull Yourself Out of a Funk

When life knocks you down, how do you get back up?

It’s a given that life will do its best to knock us down, but it’s not a given that we will get back up. Look around and you’ll see person after person with wasted dreams and anger lines etched deep into their brows.

These people weren’t born that way. Something happened. Something that was too much for them to handle. And so they threw up their hands and gave in to the life they were dealt. No longer trying to overcome their obstacles, they succumbed to a life of resignation. They didn’t get back up.

I don’t want to do that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to judge a single soul. For all I know, if I had to face certain obstacles, I would be in the same, hopeless boat. But I hope not. I’d like to think I would still choose hope.

Just to give myself a little credibility here, I want to be clear. My life is good. I have a great husband, three amazing kids, and a peaceful home. I have great family and friends to call on.

BUT. My good life just so happens to be in spite of a few things.

For one thing, I have multiple sclerosis. For those of you who don’t know, this is an incurable autoimmune condition that effects the nervous system. And guess what the nervous system is responsible for…? Yep, everything! Symptoms come and go, but you never know what you’re going to get.

Numbness and tingling on a toe, a leg, or the whole body. Spasms in a hand, a leg, or the entire left side of your body. Double vision. Virtually any function of the body can be affected because of the way MS works: it interrupts your nerve signals, which in turn causes your body to do some pretty crazy, disruptive things.

So yes, I have a good life. But that doesn’t stop me from wondering what the future will hold. Maybe we should take an amazing vacation this year because—what if I’m unable to travel next year? I should do everything I’m capable of doing now, because—what if this or that thing happens? Even if I’m doing my best to stay in good health and know that, for now, these are pretty irrational thoughts, it doesn’t stop them from taunting me.

For another thing, after my husband and I got married 14 years ago, we went through some hard stuff with lasting effects. His mom’s death for one. Yes, everybody deals with death, I get it. But this was different than most. After suffering a brain aneurysm in a location that had never been successfully operated on, my mother-in-law’s amazing neurosurgeon (https://www.mayoclinic.org/biographies/lanzino-giuseppe-m-d/bio-20055067 ) pulled it off. He fixed her. After weeks of riding a life or death roller coaster, she was finally going to be okay.

Then some weeks later, the day before she was supposed to come home from the hospital, a nurse (who was supposed to be holding onto her) left her side for a moment, and she fell. After what we all thought to be a miraculous recovery, she hit her head and that was the end.

Legal and family drama ensued, and my father-in-law’s dementia rapidly progressed into Alzheimer’s which took his life a few years ago.

Those are just a couple examples to demonstrate that my family and I are not foreign to dealing with tough stuff. My street cred, if you will (ha!).

But you know what? Everybody is dealing with tough stuff. There’s not a single person I’ve ever gotten to know who is not dealing with something hard. Everybody’s tough stuff looks different, but it’s tough nonetheless. It’s enough to make us lose sleep, be in foul moods, and treat each other unkindly as we all stumble through our days trying to appear “fine.”

So how do we pull ourselves out of these tough spots? Mentally, I mean. Sometimes we can’t change our circumstances, but that doesn’t mean we have to submit to a bitter life. We can do better than that. We can set the bar higher for the world to see.

Here are three ways to pull yourself out of a funk. They’ve worked for me. I hope they work for you, too.

First, it’s pointless to try to do it alone. We were never meant to carry our burdens alone. Jesus makes this offer to us in Matthew 11:28, 30: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Give him your burdens. Holding onto them alone is only going to cripple you in the end.

And after you’ve given your burdens to Jesus, find a friend or family member who truly cares, and let them help you. “Oh, I don’t want to worry them. They’re not responsible for my burdens,” you may be saying. Stop it! The people in your life who love you are probably more than willing to help. Let them. Letting others help isn’t a sign weakness, it’s a sign that you’re human, which, guess what—people already know! Let others help and then be willing to help others when you’re in a better place.

Second, engage with God. Don’t just hand over your burdens and walk away. Let him be a moment-by-moment part of your day. Talk. Listen. Be still. Let it be a relationship that grows deeper by the hour as you learn to lean on him and trust him. He’s a good, good Father. Really, he is.

Third, find a thing. Something you can turn to in the busyness of your day that will pump some inspiration into your system. My thing is music. Whether I’m bustling around the house homeschooling and doing chores or whether I’m sick in bed and can barely move, worship music is there to speak truth to my weary soul. (Lauren Daigle in particular – can’t get enough of her albums!) Some days inspiring music makes all the difference in my attitude toward life and trials.

Trials will come. But if we let Jesus carry our loads, partner up with God and other people, and find a way to regularly remind ourselves of the hope God gives us, we’ll be well on our way to overcoming any situation this world might throw at us next.

Leave me a comment and let me know your strategies for overcoming difficulties – I’d love to hear from you! And feel free to drop me your email address in the “subscribe” box so you can receive future blog posts delivered straight to you! Thanks for reading!

Jesus-Speakers and Paul-Writers: The Power of Words

I’ve never been good with the spoken word. I was deathly shy in high school, speaking as little as possible, except to my closest friends and family. In college I loosened up, got a little more comfortable in my own skin, and began to converse more easily with others. However, I was still ridiculously shy in the classroom setting, doing all in my power not to be called on (lest my face turn so bright red that others would stare and possibly worry about my health).

After college, I married a man (www.chipmattis.com) who is a master of words. In fact, after participating in a church class, our pastor coined him as The Word Jedi, since he always knew just how to pronounce the hard Bible words and always knew how to articulate what was on his mind.

My fantastic, Word Jedi husband is my go-to person when I need to make an important phone call. When we moved to a new town and found a great doctor for the kids but she wasn’t taking new patients, for example.

The nurse told me “sorry, she’s not taking new patients” and I said, “okay, thanks anyway.” My husband, on the other hand, called back and heard “sorry, she’s not taking new patients” but HE thought not yet, that is… and ta-da!

All three kids were new patients by the next day.

Questions concerning confusing medical bills and insurance? I hand him the phone and suddenly everyone is on our side. It’s simultaneously maddening and amazing.

He is the perfect husband for me in part because I can rest assured social situations will always be easier with him nearby. He balances me out and has served as a great example to me, inspiring me to become bolder and more confident in my in-person interactions.

I, on the other hand, have always been more comfortable with the written word. There’s a quote by Flannery O’Conner that hits the nail square on the head. She said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

Exactly!

Whenever important issues come up with important people in my life, I always prefer email. And no, not because it’s too intimidating to have serious conversations face to face (which it sort of is, but that’s beside the point…), but because I have to see my words in print to be able to think through what I’m trying to say before I officially say it.

It’s the only way for me to communicate effectively and be sure I’m saying all that I intend to say.

Some people are natural-born talkers. They can have difficult conversations in their sleep and not lose focus or forget what they were going to say.

I am not those people. Sometimes I wonder if I’m even from the same planet as those people.

Do words have power? Absolutely, not doubt about it.

Are words more powerful when spoken or written? Well, just look for a moment at the New Testament.

First we have Jesus himself, who is well known for his crowd-gathering preaching and parables. He was a spoken word man through and through. Powerful? Um, yes… Jesus and all.

And then we have Paul, the author of much of the New Testament. Did you catch that word there? I’ll say it again. Author.

I’m sure Paul did his share of speaking as he traveled around starting churches and sharing the message of Jesus. But what do we know him for today? His writing!

Paul is one of my favorite authors of all time because he demonstrates so clearly the power of the printed word.

I’m sure we are in agreement that there is power in both the spoken and written word.

But when it comes to present day personal interactions? The effectiveness of spoken vs. written word definitely depends on who you are.

Now, there are certainly merits to conversing in person, including making it easier to give someone else the benefit of the doubt, which I go into detail about in my last blog post: https://www.jessiemattis.com/2018/09/21/giving-god-the-benefit-of-the-doubt/ .

But there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how people best interact with one another.

I mean, really. What if Paul decided he needed to follow Jesus’s example exactly and so only preached to those in his vicinity? (Although there could be records of Jesus writing letters that I’m just not aware of.) Thank goodness Paul recognized his gift of writing and was able to utilize his parchment and quill to make such far-reaching contributions to eternity!

Let’s allow ourselves to embrace our “spoken word” self or our “written word” self without feeling like we should be one or the other. God created both types of people and will use us each for his great purposes. Isn’t that the main point after all?

Do you relate more to Jesus or Paul’s preferred communication style? I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below. And if you’d like to receive future posts directly to your inbox, please zip over to the “subscribe” button and leave me your email address! Thanks for reading!

4 Ways to Reclaim Your Inspiration

Do you ever get the feeling at the end of a day, week, or even year that life is passing you by without your consent? Without your full participation?

Maybe it feels like life is so full of the must-dos that there’s no time for the want-tos. Maybe you routinely wake up, go to work or school, take care of the house and/or family, and by the time you check off all the boxes of adulting for the day, it’s time to do it all over again.

You find yourself going through the motions of life like a robot with none of the zest for life you had “back in the day.”

“That’s life,” people say.

“You gotta do what you gotta do,” they say as they throw up their hands, feeling as lost as you do.

You’ve lost your motivation because you can’t find your inspiration.

I’ve been there. Much of the toddler years of my kids’ lives felt that way. Maybe due to sleep deprivation. Maybe due to the fact that you can’t form a coherent thought when you’re hanging out with toddlers all day. I’m not complaining—I’ve loved my time at home with my kids, but there are certainly seasons of life more…shall we say…life giving than others.

This is for those of us who lose sight of the inspiration we so desperately need in order to obtain a fulfilling life.

If this is where you find yourself today, or have found yourself in the past, I’m speaking to you. And I’m most certainly speaking to myself.

Four Ways to Reclaim Your Inspiration:

1.  Be still. Some people claim they’re always busy as if it’s a badge of honor. It’s not. You will never find inspiration if your mind is crammed full of everything under the sun.

Make margin in your life—it’s not your job to take care of everything under the sun. Clear your mind long enough to let the peace of God and the voice of the Spirit calm and guide you. This will allow you to remember what really matters and direct your focus.

2.  Speak affirmations. For whatever reason, there is power in speaking truth out loud. Talk back to the negativity that tries to take root in your mind.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started: “I have power, love, and a sound mind.” (from 2 Timothy 1:7), “I delight in God. He fulfills the desires of my heart.” (from Psalms 37:4), or “God fills me with joy and peace as I trust in him.” (from Romans 15:13).

Practice speaking affirmations such as these and you will soon find that you have more confidence in God and in yourself.

3.  Remember what God says. Yes, this sort of overlaps with point #2, except where point #2 focuses more on who YOU are in God, this one suggests focusing more on GOD alone. His timeless truths and promises for our lives.

My favorite way to remember the truths of God is through music. Contrary to popular belief, there actually is a lot of great Christian music out there. (Lauren Daigle is one of my favorites and my 10 year old daughter thought it was Adele when she heard her on the radio!)

Good music is a great way to flood inspiration back into our hearts and minds. Other ways include reading the Bible or reaching out to a friend who can speak the truth of God into your life.

4.  Just do it! (And no, I’m not trying to get into any Nike controversy, I promise.) Sometimes you just have to be bold and do something new or unexpected. Have you been wanting to learn piano for years? No time like the present! Have you been wanting to start a Bible study with your friends? Call them today! Doing new things brings a rush of life back into your soul like few other things can.

My challenge to you (and to myself) is to be proactive and try out these four tips this week—see if some inspiration doesn’t come creeping back into your life. I pray that each of us would breathe new life as we seek to understand the vision and good plans God has for our lives, grab hold with both hands, and not look back.

I would love to hear what you think! Leave me a comment below to share your thoughts! And while you’re at it (if you haven’t already), head on over to the subscribe button and drop your email address so you can receive future posts directly to your inbox. Thanks for reading!