Category Archives: Life

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!

 

 

Checklist Endorphins??

Hello, my name is Jessie and I’m a list maker. There, it’s out. I confess – I have grocery lists, meal plan lists, homeschool lists, to-do lists, books-I-want-to-read lists, and this list I’ve made of lists I like to make could go on and on. (Does the word list look strange to anyone else after that many repetitions?)

I’ve been laughed at for my list making, and although it genuinely doesn’t bother me, you can imagine my delight the other day when I heard that checking boxes on a to-do list actually releases endorphins.

That’s right, those oh-so desirable, feel-good endorphins are actually released into our bodies when we physically mark an item off of our list. (Physically, meaning marking it out with a writing utensil on paper. The same effect was not found to be true when marking it off of an electronic device.)

It’s so exciting to me that there’s actually science to back up my list making habits now! But whether you’re a list maker or not, let’s look at this a little further.

What does this new knowledge of endorphin-releasing checkmarks mean for us?

It means the more we check off our lists, the more motivated we are to continue doing so. Endorphins are that boost we need in order to get into a groove so we can stay on task.

This new knowledge also means that it’s absolutely okay, and even encouraged, to write menial tasks on our lists entirely for the benefit of crossing them off.

“Get up.” Check!

“Make coffee.” Check! Sweet, I’m on a roll!

Let’s give ourselves some time to start releasing those endorphins with smaller tasks before attempting the meatier ones like exercising or paying bills.

I gotta say…this new information definitely reduces the amount of crazy I’ve felt for all those times I backfilled my list for the sole purpose of checking more items off.

It’s science, people!

Maybe you’re not a list person. Maybe lists make you feel confined or burdened. Maybe you’ll never be a list person. And that’s okay. (I guess.)

BUT, maybe it’s just time to try again. In this busy age of existence, information bombards our senses at all hours of the day. It’s certainly enough to make the important things slip my mind if I haven’t written them down.

List makers rejoice! The next time someone scoffs at us and our list making ways, we’ll be armed and ready with science to back ourselves up. You can’t argue with endorphins.

Non-list makers, fear not! Now is the time to try again, making sure to add several easy tasks to your list first in order to get that endorphin boost before you tackle the rest of the list.

And while this topic may not be quite as deep as many of my posts, I really do love a good nugget of health related encouragement. And I love lists. So, you know…win-win!

Have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend and thanks for reading! I’d love to hear any comments you may have – feel free to post them below!

Life Changing Time-Ins

The concept of a time-in was a game changer for me.

If you have young(ish) kids and have never heard of a time-in, then please—keep reading. And if you don’t—also keep reading. (You never know when this might come in useful!)

Several years ago when I was knee deep in cloth diapers and homemade baby food (yes, our first child got all the good stuff. Don’t even ask about the second and third.) I was an avid consumer of parenting books. Most had great nuggets of wisdom I attempted to tuck away into my sleep-deprived brain for another day.

Truth be told, most of those nuggets got lost in the chaos that is my brain. Never to be seen again amidst lost card game instructions, movie plots, and to-do lists.

However, one parenting tip that stuck with me was the idea of a time-in. In case it’s a new idea for you, a time-in is basically the opposite of a time-out, but it works for kids of any age; not just the youngest ones.

I’m pretty sure every parent in America is familiar with the concept of the time-out: you know, wait until child misbehaves, then banish them to a small area where they miss out on the fun that’s going on around them while they reconsider their bad choices and plan for how to make better choices in the future. Uh-huh. Because that’s totally how it goes, right?

In reality (well, my reality anyway) time-outs have looked more like this: pick up screaming child, place them in a certain area away from all the fun, explain the wrongdoings and consequences, plug ears while child continues screaming and doesn’t hear a word you say. Child screams until you either retrieve them or they fall into a sniffley sleep. Does that sound more familiar to anyone else?

The magic of the time-in is that it nips most major meltdowns in the bud. What happens is that you deliberately spend time with your child periodically throughout the day. (It doesn’t have to be lots of time, it can be as little as just ten minutes every few hours, depending on the child.)

By paying deliberate attention to your child, by getting into their world and really focusing on them, you are ensuring that they feel valued, loved, and cared for.

And when a child feels valued, loved, and cared for at the start of a day, they are way less likely to pitch fits throughout the day.

Obviously, it’s not a magic bullet. Tantrums and fits definitely still happen. But I’m here to tell you that time-ins have worked well for us.

When my youngest was a toddler and I was homeschooling my two bigger kids, time-ins were a crucial part of our morning routine. I knew that if I spent just ten minutes playing with and loving on my toddler, she would be way more inclined to toddle around happily while I turned my attention to the big kids for school.

And if I forgot or skipped our time-ins before school? My precious, easy-going toddler would turn super whiney. She would get into everything she knew she wasn’t supposed to be in.

Why? I imagine it’s because she didn’t receive my positive attention to begin with and so resorted to getting my attention however she could.

Now my kids are ages 6,8, and 10 and time-ins are still a necessary part of our days. My kids don’t generally throw tantrums these days (hooray!), but I can still see a difference when they’ve had a little quality time with me or their dad.

They get along with each other better, they complain less, and they’re happy to entertain themselves for quite a while afterward. And then I can pull out my trusty to-do list and get to work!

Pretty powerful results for a pretty simple concept.

Yes, all parents are busy. All parents have a billion and a half things running through their minds at any given moment.

But really—ten minutes. Three times per day.

If you have kids and you haven’t spent ten focused, screen-free minutes with them lately, I challenge you to give it a try. If you have more than ten minutes, by all means spend more focused time with them. I’m challenging myself, too, by the way. In no way do I have this all figured out.

Catch them in the morning before things start to go wrong. Connect with them first and then observe the positive differences in how they deal with their day.

See how drastically time-outs are reduced when time-ins become a part of your daily routine.

And when time-ins and time-outs fail you (as they sometimes will), remind yourself of Psalm 127, 3-4:

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.”

No matter our moods and attitudes or our children’s moods and attitudes, our children are gifts from God. They are valuable. Precious. Small reflections of Jesus in our very homes. Let’s do our best to treat them as such.

Have you used time-ins with the kids in your life or is this a new idea for you? Leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts! Also, take a sec and head over (or down) to the subscribe button and sign up so you can receive new blog posts straight to your email!

One more thing—I had endeavored not to blog about kids /parenting /homeschooling since there are a bazillion other blogs out there focused on these things. But since it’s all such a part of who I am, those topics will probably start coming up more often. And that’s okay. 🙂 Thanks for reading and have a happy weekend!