Tag Archives: Jesus

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!!


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.”


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!

Good Health Can’t be an Idol…Right??

Let me be honest with you in regards to my lifelong food journey. Health was not on my mind the first 20+ years of my life. My mom was ahead of the curve in her knowledge of good vs. bad for you foods while she was raising my sister and me, so I had some advantage there, but there were still a lot of unknowns at that point. The internet wasn’t in our lives for most of my childhood, with it’s all-knowing wisdom and health guidance. Junk food and pop were the societal norm, which meant every time I was with my friends (which was a lot), junk was front and center on the menu.

I was blessed with good genes, and weight wasn’t an issue for me. I saw no need to consider the food I was eating at all as long as gaining weight wasn’t an issue. So I carried on my merry ways, eating pizza and candy, and guzzling Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper every chance I got.

Fast forward to age 23. Newly married, both of us working full time, living off cheap ground beef, lots of cheese, pizza, and pasta. Most fruits and vegetables usually found a place in the fridge where they would stay put until they were rotten enough to throw out. I laugh about it now, but really – what a sad picture of nutritional health!!

Fast forward a year…I get diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. With my mom on my team doing crazy amounts of research, we discover it’s recommended for people with MS to do a low fat diet. I buy every low-fat item at the supermarket but continue to eat crazy amounts of sugar because, guess what? Sugar’s low-fat! Lucky me – I can continue eating most of my candy and drinking my corn syrup laden pop since, of course, it’s fat free!

Fast forward another year. I’m slammed with MS symptoms. Something’s got to change. Apparently this low-fat diet isn’t the magic bullet we were hoping for. After much research, I change medication and begin taking Low Dose Naltrexone. (Oh, and I finally learn about healthy fats and begin adding them back in. About time.) The LDN is helping, but I feel like there’s more I can do.

The eight years following were a time of trial and error, reading articles, books, talking to doctors and friends. And then a dear friend introduced me to the Whole30. I knew something needed to change, and this was a way to see if any of the foods I was eating were a problem for me, and to sort of “reset” the body. I was immediately in.

For thirty days my diet consisted of meat, fruit, nuts, olive oil, and more vegetables than I care to remember. By the end of the thirty days I felt So.Good. I felt confident in my health. Confident. That was huge for me. I felt like I didn’t even have to wonder about when my next flare up would be. I felt like if I ate only those things I could CONTROL my health. Dun dun duuun….

Let me just stop here and mention this. Guys, it’s hard to eat that perfectly. Time consuming, ginormous grocery bills, hours in the kitchen chopping vegetables kind of hard. It basically became a part time job since, you know, raising and homeschooling three kids and church planting didn’t keep me busy enough. 😉

Over the past several years since that time, I have had periods where I’ve really buckled down and focused on eating as well as possible, and I’ve had periods where I think “I feel really good, so I’m sure I can relax my food standards and be just fine…” But inevitably, it comes back to bite me.

So yes, I’ve learned that I feel best when I eat my best. Simple, right? To that I say HA! If only.

Every day is a struggle. Although the sugar addiction is gone, praise Jesus, I never stop wanting it when it’s available. I never stop dreading spending hours in the kitchen prepping healthy food. There always seems to be a food related battle going on in my mind.

I begin to have thoughts like “Well, if God hasn’t healed me from MS, I guess I have to take matters into my own hands…” And then I proceed to feel guilty about every bite I take that is not actively making my body healthier. I become meticulous and sometimes obsessed with what I eat and what I actively avoid eating.

I begin to trust in my own ability to heal my body from the inside out with food. Food is medicine, right? That’s what they say, at least. And I believe it’s true. To a point.

But when does healthy eating become an idol? You know, one of those pesky things warned about in the Ten Commandments, which is to be avoided lest it be honored more highly than God himself?

I’m sure there are scholarly answers to this question, but let me tell you my personal answer. Healthy eating becomes an idol when you find yourself trusting it more and more and trusting Jesus less and less. When you feel like you’re in control of yourself instead of God.

Yes, we need to be responsible about what we put into our bodies. Our bodies are temples – dwelling places for the Holy Spirit. That’s a big deal. So we do need to be smart here and play our part responsibly…just not to the point of trusting food for our wellness more than we trust God for our wellness.

Knowing this makes it easier for me to be okay with doing my best and resting in his grace and provision for the rest. Some days my best looks pretty impressive, food-wise. And some days my best looks like choosing chicken nuggets and unsweet tea in the drive-thru between my son’s ninja class and our church group, instead of that greasy double cheeseburger and Dr. Pepper that’s calling my name.

It’s when we proceed full speed ahead by our own wills and leave Jesus trailing behind that those idols appear. It shouldn’t take long to discover there’s a giant idol in our path, blocking our view of our trustworthy Lord. And when we finally knock that idol out of our way, we have an open path to Jesus’ outstretched hand. As long as we proceed in partnership and relationship with Jesus at our side, we can find the rest and strength we need to keep doing our best.




Uncertainty and Anxiety with MS

For anyone who doesn’t already know, (and be thankful if you haven’t been forced to learn, haha!) MS is a very unpredictable disease.  It looks different for everyone, so there’s no way to know how the future will unfold.  I happen to have a fairly mild form of it – for now, that is.  I’ll go through a few years or so where I feel great, and then will have a flare up as if to remind me not to get too cocky about feeling so good.  When I do have a flare up, it’s usually pretty intense and may last several months.  Needless to say, this pattern can cause quite a bit of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear – if I allow myself to think too much about the possibilities!

It seems as if every time I search for something MS-related online, or flip through an MS Society magazine, all I get are visions of canes, wheelchairs and bladder control problems.  If I search MS groups and message boards online I inevitably find person after person voicing their health struggles and woes.  And these people have legit problems – I have great compassion for them! However, I often have to remind myself that (in general) the ones posting these tragic stories are often the worst off.  They find themselves in a dark place and they get online to reach out, share their stories, and search for hope.  But for those of us who are actually doing pretty well, it can paint a  frightening and hopeless picture of the future.

After the birth of our third child (6 years ago), I had a flare up that was so bad it basically halted my life.  I could do extremely little to help my kids, husband, or self.  I basically stayed in our bedroom for weeks having spasms while my family and friends cared for my children.  I’ll admit – I did resist medical treatment for a few weeks in order to nurse my newborn; if I had sought treatment sooner, it surely wouldn’t have been quite so dramatic.  And yes, I have been known to be stubborn once or twice. (Insert my husband’s laughter here.)

The reason I mention that specific flare up is because, although I’ve never been professionally diagnosed, I’m almost certain I have some level of PTSD because of it.  Obviously, there are many people who have been through worse situations. I almost hate to use the term “PTSD” because I don’t want to take away from their stories – war, abuse,  etc.  But honestly, those months were intensely painful for me, as well as crazy emotional since I wasn’t able to care for my newborn or other children.

That being said, each time I feel the slightest twinge in my leg that reminds me of that time, anxiety floods my mind and body.  My mind immediately goes to the worst case scenario and I start planning ways for my family to do life without my participation.  Not to brag or anything, but as a homeschool mom of three, my involvement is fairly crucial to our days functioning smoothly!  CBD oil helps me a lot, but it’s not enough to work on a deeper, spiritual level.

So then I have a choice.  Do I let myself get sucked down the trail of doom in my mind?  Or do I deliberately choose to speak truth and hope into my life?  Truthfully, it’s a mind battle between the two, but so far hope and truth have always won out in the end.  But only with Jesus’ help.  Honestly, oftentimes in those situations my first and most prominent prayer is simply: “Jesus.”  So much meaning behind one name.  And since God and I are tight, I rest easy knowing that he knows what I mean.  I don’t say it as some do, out of frustration.  When my prayer is simply “Jesus” what I’m really saying is:

“Help me, God.  I don’t have the strength for this.  I’m too tired.  I’m  scared. I need you to carry this and take it away.  I need you to be by my side as I go through whatever I’m about to go through. I need your peace so I’m not terrified and defeated.”

And then the anxiety eases.  And maybe it comes back five, twenty, or forty five minutes later, and I whisper another “Jesus.”  And it eases again.  Lather, rinse, repeat indefinitely.

If I don’t have the confidence that comes with knowing Jesus is always with me no matter what, loving me and helping me as I go, then I will always be anxious and scared when a flare up (or any other stressful life circumstance) occurs.  But since I do have this confidence, I know that I will ultimately get to a point where I say, “Whatever happens, God will be with me to help me and provide for my needs and my family’s needs. He always has and he always will.” And it’s after I’ve gotten to this point where I can truly move on with my day and live without fear for the future.  It’s at this point I can live the life I have and not the life I fear I’ll have one day.