Tag Archives: Redirected.life

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!

Do Your Best Until You Know Better

Have you ever witnessed a toddler picking up their toys? It usually goes something like this: Put a toy in the toy box. See a fun toy that’s already in said toy box. Take out fun toy and play with it. Get reminded to keep picking up. Put a couple more toys in the toy box. Get distracted. Repeat.

And when the toys are more or less picked up, whether or not they’re half hanging outside the toy box and there are still some race cars or doll clothes scattered about, what does the parent say? Well, when the child is just old enough to learn how to pick up, the reaction from the parents is usually along the lines of: Great job, honey! Way to go, picking up your toys! What a big girl/boy you are!

Fast forward a few years. Now imagine you tell your eight-year-old to pick up their room. How pleased will you be to walk in and find toys still scattering the floor, toy box overflowing with dress up costumes? Probably not very.

Why? Because you know your eight-year-old knows better. You know what they’re capable of and can tell when they’re not really trying.

But when your eight-year-old tells you they’re finished and you walk in to find a basically neat room, with their comforter frumpled from their best attempt to make their bed and their books wrong side out on the bookshelves (although lined up somewhat neatly), what are you going to say? Probably something like, Great job, honey! Thank you for picking up your room when I asked you!

Why? Because you know he or she did their best. You know what their best looks like and you understand how that will change as they grow and learn.

And finally, imagine your child grows up and gets a job cleaning houses. Imagine they have to answer to the demands for near perfection from their clients. If you were to inspect a house they cleaned, what would you find?

Probably near perfection.

Why? Because they have grown and learned over the years and they now understand exactly what is expected of them and exactly what a clean house ought to look like.

Is our journey with God so different from this toddler, eight-year-old, and grown-up?

Maya Angelou has a quote that I absolutely love, which goes like this:

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

We can’t do what we don’t know! And that’s okay!

Just like the mother praising her toddler for picking up, even when the job isn’t technically done well. The toddler is only just learning what it even means to pick up their toys. From their understanding, they did exactly what was asked of them. And it was enough. It was pleasing to the mother.

As we learn more, more will be expected of us. In life as well as with God. We try our hardest, and certainly none of us are living perfect lives, but God is so pleased with us when we live according to our best understanding of his instructions.

And this is where it can get sticky.

This is where we sometimes encounter others with different beliefs due to different interpretations of scripture, as people do their studying and arrive at different conclusions.

For example, women pastors.

My personal Bible study, research, experience, and relationship with God has convicted me to believe God has empowered men and women alike to preach his Word. Others, through their own Bible study, research, experience, and relationship with God have come to believe that God has not empowered women to preach. Both views have scripture to support them.

Check out this passage from Romans 14:1, 5

“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters… One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.” [My paraphrase of verse 6: For they both do so to the Lord and give thanks to God.]

I believe as long as we’re doing the best we can, attempting to make sense out of what God has spoken to us, we please him by being obedient and giving it our all.

If we’re loving God and loving others, and are convinced by the Bible that the path we’re taking is best, I believe God is incredibly pleased.

(And we’d do well to remind ourselves that this goes both ways with other people. So when we feel like examining other people’s paths and beliefs, let’s remember they’re on this “you can’t do better until you know better” journey as well. And yes, some people know better and just don’t care. That would be a different blog post for a different day, haha!)

The more we learn, the more God will ask of us. The more we obey, the more we’ll trust his paths. But it’s always a moving target according to our best understanding at the time.

God never changes, but we change all the time. Hopefully for the better.

And wherever we are on the journey, whether we just met Jesus today, or we’ve known him our entire lives—as long as we grab hold of his word and make our best attempt at obeying and serving him, I believe he’ll look at us and say, Great job! Thank you for doing your best! Way to go!

(Please leave me a comment below to let me know your thoughts! And before you leave, I’d love for you to sign up with your email address so I can send you new blog posts straight to your email! 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!

Roadblocks, Extroverts, and Naps

Pretend to be an extrovert. Then take a nap.

These were my words to live by a couple weeks ago when my husband and I were at a 5 day writer’s conference. Because, according to author and speaker Jim Watkins ( http://www.jameswatkins.com ), the three rules to publishing success are: 1. Network. 2. Network. And 3….yep. Network.

This introvert became a wannabe extrovert during those busy days. From 7am until 9pm. Wake up and go to the cafeteria for breakfast…network. Go to classes…network. Coffee break…network. Lunch, more classes, dinner, evening groups…network. Repeat again and again. And then take a nap at the end of the day… a seven hour nap, in my case, which is just barely time to recharge enough to do it again.

It was a little overwhelming and a lot intimidating.

So what do you do when you’re driven toward something but it seems there’s no way to reach your goal without a giant barrier (or two. or three.) blocking your way?

There was a time, not long ago, when I would have said a big no thank you to spending five days out of my comfort zone with a bunch of strangers. This time was different. I knew if I said no to this, I would be handicapping the dream God put on my heart.

When I was young I used to think if God put a dream in my heart, it would just happen. Someone would show up at my door one day, apparently having read my mind, and offer the opportunity I had been longing for.

(Ah, former me…bless her heart.)

At the conference last month Jim Watkins said, “Trust God like it all depends on God and work like it all depends on you.”

This quote is so inspiring to me. It’s easy to get stuck in a place of waiting for God to miraculously make something happen for us. It’s just as easy to get stuck in a place of doing it all ourselves, leaving God trailing behind.

When you’re following God’s path for your life and you come to a blockade (and you will most certainly come to a blockade, if not many), the way I see it you have four choices.

  1. Throw your hands up in resignation and redirect yourself
  2. Listen to see if God wants to redirect you
  3. Find a way through, across, or around the blockade.
  4. Make camp and spend the rest of your life staring at the blockade.

Which one comes most naturally to you? I would say redirecting myself is my natural inclination, before I slow down enough to remember that listening for God’s direction is actually my best bet. And hopefully that will lead to #3, finding a way past the blockade. Lord help me if I resort to #1 or settle for #4.

Often, when our course is being redirected by God, it’s easy to think we missed the mark to begin with. That we never should have started what we began that led us to the point of redirection. But what if that’s not true at all? What if the journey was God’s plan all along?

Another great quote from the conference came from author and speaker Steven James who said,

“Just because God keeps a door closed, it doesn’t mean he didn’t want you to try opening it.”

The door may be kept closed for reasons we will never fully understand. Sometimes the most thorough understanding we can have is simply that God knows best. There’s no telling what lessons we’ll learn or character we’ll develop on the journey of trying that will ultimately benefit us in big ways.

I’ve been spending a lot of time writing over the past year. I’m loving the journey and am learning more every day about what it takes to actually be a writer. And let me tell you…the journey is so much more complex than I ever imagined. Discouraging in many ways, to be honest. I have moments when I consider how much easier it would be to quit.

But then I come back to basics. I focus in on the dream God put on my heart and I block out the other voices, knowing that the dream belongs to God, not me. If he equips me to move past the blockades, (which will inevitably come), then great. If he chooses to redirect me, that’s fine too.

It will be in his strength, either way.

What blockades are in your path today? How will you choose to handle them?

This week, try giving your dreams to God. Trust him and work hard. Do what you’ve got to do. And then take a nap. 🙂

Please leave me a comment to share your thoughts—I’d love to hear what’s going on with you and say a prayer for your journey!