30 Days of Gratitude – Day 27 Blessed Sleep or Insomnia

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Today I’m grateful for the blessing of restorative sleep.  I’m so grateful for it now because as it sometimes does it eludes me tonight.

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Sleep gives our body time to regenerate itself.  It helps in weight loss.  The effects of insomnia on our body are harsh.

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Who wants to be irritable or  impaired morally or have hallucinations?  Who wants problems with their heart, type 2 diabetes, tremors, or risk of obesity?  I don’t want any of those and unfortunately am already struggling with some of these.

I found this article by Dr. Mehmet Oz that helped me realize some of the things I was doing wrong when it.  If your suffering with insomnia like me maybe some of these things might be helpful to you as well.

According to clinical psychologist Dr. Rubin Naiman, getting a good night’s sleep is critical for our physical, spiritual and emotional health—yet more and more people suffer from sleep disorders and insomnia. Dr. Naiman urges us to slow down, unwind and embrace the spiritual side of sleep, and he says most sleep problems can—and should—be treated without medications. Dr. Oz talks to Dr. Naiman, who is also the sleep specialist at the Miraval Resort in Arizona and the author ofHealing Night: The Science and Spirit of Sleeping, Dreaming and Awakening, about the importance of sleep and ways that you can reclaim the night:

  • Dr. Naiman says that if you fall asleep the second your head hits the pillow, you are most likely sleep deprived and excessively tired. Give yourself 10–15 minutes in bed, in the dark and alone with your thoughts before you fall asleep, he says.
  • If you consistently need an alarm clock to wake up, you’re not getting enough sleep. “If you get enough sleep, you’ll just awaken naturally,” Dr. Naiman says. The simple solution: Go to bed earlier.
  • If you’re using excessive stimulation during the day for energy, such as caffeine, high-glycemic foods or running on adrenaline, you’re probably not getting enough sleep, Dr. Naiman says.
  • Be sure to sleep in complete darkness—that means turning off the TV, night-lights and bright alarm clocks. Dr. Naiman says that even a small amount of light at night suppresses the body’s production of melatonin, a natural hormone that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle and plays a vital role in other important biological processes.
  • Dreams are extremely valuable to the human psyche, Dr. Naiman says, not only from a spiritual standpoint but from a health standpoint. In fact, he says evidence suggests that “the chronic loss of dreaming may be the most critically overlooked factor in clinical depression.”
  • The process of preparing your mind and body for sleep is a valuable spiritual process, Dr. Naiman says. “It’s an opportunity to literally practice this fundamental art of letting go, of surrendering,” he says.
  • Rest is just as important as sleep, Dr. Naiman says. People often confuse rest with recreational activities like bowling, reading or drinking alcohol, he says. Rather, learn to engage in things like meditation, yoga or prayer. “Rest informs most approaches to healing and I think we underestimate how powerful it is,” he says.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/oprahradio/The-Value-of-Sleep#ixzz2OATHwiQu

I pray this is as helpful to you as it has been to me.  Then we can all be praising God for a good night’s sleep.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

30 Days of Gratitude Day 25 – Loving God’s Mercy

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Today I’m grateful for the glory of God’s mercy.  You see I also struggle with my weight.  I’m going to Weight Watchers and have days when I do program better than other days, but I must confess I still do not like the way I look over 44 pounds lighter than when I began.  That’s because I have about 100 more to shed.  I’m fully aware that this is vanity on my part but I grieve the face and body I once looked at that was so much thinner than this present form before me.

My boyfriend says I’m beautiful and that it grieves him that I feel ugly, mostly because he sees the hurt that causes me.  In that he reminds me of my heavenly Father and this quote I got from a devotional:

But no matter how far off the path or how long we are on it, God is patient with us and loves us as a dearly beloved chid – part of His family (Romans 8:16-17; Galatians 4:7).

This reminds me of a touching story shared by my friend Karen Ehman, who lost over one hundred pounds in the first stage of her journey toward health.  Her friend, Tammy, saw a “before” picture and was encouraging Karen enthusiastically when Karen’s young son, Spencer, walked in.  Tammy said, “Wow, Spencer, can you believe that was your mom?  She’s lost so much weight.  Doesn’t she look great?”  In  confusion, he looked back and forth between the photo and Karen and said, “Hmmm, they both look like Mama to me!”.

Out of the mouth of babes.

We are loved as God’s special girls!  No matter where you are in your struggle with healthy eating.  God looks at you and says, “She still looks like my precious  daughter to me!”  He loves you just the way you are.  But God loves you too much to leave stuck in defeat.  You were made for so much more.  You were made for victory.

This comes from, “Made to Crave Devotional: 60 Days to Craving God, Not Food” by Lysa Terkeurst.

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It’s so good to be reminded that God’s mercy extend into any area of our life that we may be struggling with.  Struggle with food?  God loves you and in His love He’s unwilling to leave you stuck where you are.  Alcohol?  God loves you where you are but is unwilling to leave you there.  Workaholic?  God loves you where you are but is unwilling to leave you there.  Shopaholic?  God loves you where you are but is unwilling to leave you there.  Gambler?  God loves you where you are but is unwilling to leave you there.  Sexaholic?  God loves you where you are but is unwilling to leave you there.  Have I made my point yet?  It doesn’t matter what you are struggling with even if it is a chemical imbalance in the brain, or diabetes whatever your struggle God loves you and wants you to live at your full potential.  Now the last two there is only so much that can be done and then it’s learning to live with it.  But both can be helped with healthy eating and exercise.

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God in His mercy doesn’t allow us to be stuck where we are in bondage to anything.  He wants us to live victoriously.  He promises an abundant life and that starts by allowing God to work in our lives and help us out of the muck and mire of our struggles.

Won’t you join me in surrendering our struggles to God and His almighty power.  With Him all things are possible including standing clean on firm ground.  Wouldn’t you prefer that to the muck and mire of the pit that your struggles currently have you in?  I know I would and that is why I cry out; “Abba!  Father!  Rush to my aide and pull me from the pit and set my feet on firm ground and cleanse me from my sins.”

Let me clarify something before I get angry comments in no way am I inferring that bi-polar disorder or any other chemical imbalance of the brain or diabetes are sins.  But if you know that eating healthy and exercise (and I’m talking to myself as well here because I’ve been blessed with both) will help symptoms and we don’t do it, aren’t we sinning?  Missing the mark?  Missing the best for our bodies?  Just something to think about.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

30 Days of Gratitude – Day 9

Today I’m grateful for gratitude!  I find the longer I do this the more I find to be grateful for.  The more I find to be grateful for the happier person I am.

I think that if I practiced this for the rest of my life as a daily act of worship, my whole life would change radically.  Now I’m not saying that I will no longer strugglewith Bi-polar disorder or even GAD (General Anxiety Disorder), since these are chemical mishaps in my brain.  What I am saying is that I could very well live a much happier and if not happy, grateful life if I decided to make this a daily practice even on my bad days.

That’s the challenge being consistent and doing it no matter how I feel.  Looking at what to be grateful for will at the least help to regulate my chemicals some in my mind.  The challenge is when you’re not feeling well choosing gratitude in the face of depression.

As the picture above says choosing my thoughts and choosing gratitude to be the forefront could make a radical difference in the way I live my life and the attitude that I have.  Not just around myself and other people but my attitude towards God and all that He has done and is capable of doing.

I truly think that an attitude of gratitude would stretch my faith and isn’t that always a good thing?  May I encourage you to try it with me?   Let’s not just make this a 30 day deal.  Let’s practice this in our lives as an act of worship on a daily basis.  Then let us see where it takes us.  Please comment back to me and let me know the journey God takes you on.  I promise to keep you posted past November on the journey God takes me on and in thatway we can be of an encouragement to one another.  Isn’t that what the body of Christ is all about anyway?

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Help! I’m Bi-polar!

I struggle with Bi-polar disorder and the past two plus weeks I’ve been struggling with severe depression.  When this happens it is easy to believe God has deserted you.  Now I am fully aware that that is not Biblically sound doctrine.  It’s just when your deep in the pit of despair it’s easy to go by feelings rather than faith of the truth of God’s Word.  But this is what God’s Word has to say on the matter:

What a blessed promise.  When I’m isolating in my apartment, I’m never truly alone.  God is with me.  He promises this and He is faithful, He never breaks His Word.

When I keep the discipline of staying in His Word I find these jewels that help me to hold on one more day in hopes of the depression leaving soon and life looking full of possibilities for the future.

I love this version of this particular verse because instead of translating the word to prosper which most people equate with money, something God has never seen fit to lavish upon me, it translates it as peace and that I’d much prefer.

There is another verse that I have found helpful in changing the thoughts that don’t help with the depression that I am fighting.

Filling my mind with positive thoughts rather than negative thoughts literally changed my life that and the decision that suicide was no longer an option.  But there is more than just the positive thoughts Philippians 4:9 goes on to say, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.”  Now that’s a wonderful promise! But notice the promise comes with action on our part.

For any of you that are struggling with Bi-polar disorder please don’t get me wrong in no way am I saying that it is easy to deal with.  I struggle with wanting to isolate, sleep my life away, gorge myself into oblivion so I don’t have to feel and I have even done less healthy things in an attempt to cope. What I am saying is it is a fight we mustn’t stop, and in that fight use any tool available to you.  Take your meds religiously.  See your doctors and therapists regularly and be open and honest with them.  Make sure you have a support network.  If you don’t work occupy yourself so you have a set schedule. Get plenty of rest and have a consistent bedtime.  Eat healthy even when you don’t want to.  Get exercise and get 20 minutes of morning sun.  All of these will help you live a better life.

Joy – Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

The Best Medicine

The Bible says in Proverbs 17:22

A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.

Now no one wants dry bones or a broken spirit.   So if you are feeling a little down today here is some medicine that I thought you might enjoy for a change.

This is good advice and I would subscribe it a minimum of 5 times a day and it really should be more for a really healthy life.  The endorphins it gives you are great and does wonders for you.  You see The Great Physician knows what He’s talking about, medical research has verified it.  But we don’t need the research all we need to do is trust God at His Word.

Here are some more to tickle your funny bone.

This can’t possibly be the cat next door.  Who would want to smite this cutie?

If these photos didn’t get the laughter going then and even if it did (I’ll join you in this) look for things in your everyday occurrences that will make you laugh.  Maybe your hair isn’t behaving quite as it should today, now for me the perfectionist this will be a hard one but my boyfriend is always telling me to not be so hard on myself so I’ll do my best to laugh instead of getting frustrated.  If traffic is crazy take a deep breath and think about Godzilla being the cause of all the mess, that should put a smile on your face, if not a laugh in your heart.  Look for the humor of your pet or your children (they grow up so fast), or your spouse (but don’t laugh at them just with them).

Have a day a week full of laughter.  One last one to get your week started.

Sorry saw this one and just couldn’t resist. :0)

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

The Truth Will Set You Free

It is no fun living in bondage.  As a believer that has lived under bondage for far too long let me encourage you to take your fears to the cross and ask Christ for wisdom in what the truth is that has you bound.

With the help of my counselor I did that today and learned a lie that I had been believing for far too long.  The enemy knew my past, something I had hidden much of from myself as a means to cope, and was using it to keep me in bondage.

Today for the first time in decades of therapy  I was strong enough to look at some very difficult things.  It’s not that I hadn’t had inklings that these things had happened but with no memory I doubted myself.  The Lord very graciously brought these things back to memory for me today and with that truth came freedom.

I finally became aware of the lie I had been believing the majority of my life, “If I was pretty, men would hurt me.”  I have been the victim of multiple rapes starting at the age of 10.  But until today, I only had suspicions of them and no actual memories.  God is His goodness knew two things today.  One that I was now strong enough to handle the truth and two that I needed to know the truth for real healing to happen.  I feel finally as though a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.  The self-doubt, questions, confusion is all gone now that I know the truth.

No I would prefer that this had not happened to me but knowing it, explains so many things in my life.  Why as soon as I start getting thin and getting compliments on how pretty I look I turn to food in an attempt to alter my appearance.  Since I believed the lie, “If I’m pretty, men would hurt me.”  I did what I could to make myself unattractive.  Yet another part of me wanted to feel and look pretty because I equated it with love.  Definitely not the right kind of love.

When I had blossomed to 350 pounds I hated myself and the very sight of me.  I avoided mirrors and the scale.  I didn’t want to know the truth of how bad it had gotten.  The things that I wanted to do to myself are too horrible to mention.  Suffice it to say I was miserable. Now 98 pounds lighter I’m learning to love myself.  I’m still not satisfied with my weight but I am hopeful with todays revelation I will stop sabotaging myself on my journey to a healthy weight.

Isn’t this picture true we are the elephant with God’s help big enough to escape the bounds of these chains and these chains are the enemy and all his lies tricking us into thinking that we are stuck in our bondage.

This is the biggest revelation God has given me about how the truth truly does set you free.  I’ve been in bondage to food and I feel it grip released on me.  I praise God for that.  I know that it is nothing of my own it is totally from Him and the gift of showing me the truth of my life.

My part was to be willing and open to His guidance.  Isn’t that all He asks of us on a daily basis?  After this revelation my fear has gone and I’m more willing to trust Him and His will for my life, wherever that takes me.

My hope for you is that you didn’t have to go through the same things I have.  But I also hope that you will learn to be open to God’s guidance and free from fear.  I also pray that you learn the blessed truth of how the truth really does set you free.  So don’t be fooled like the elephant be the triumphant child of God that you are!

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

Trusting God

I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.  Psalms 40:1

This comes from the first devotional I read today.

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.  John 6:38

This was the second devotional, talking about how Jesus had a Potter/clay relationship with the Father.  As the Son of God he had to trust God’s will and carry it out.

Behold, God, my salvation!  I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and song; yes, He has become my salvation.  Isaiah 12:2

This was my third devotional, talking about how when you follow Jesus, God will lead you in what you should do and that you needn’t worry but can have confidence or trust in His guidance.

It would seem that God is trying to get a point across to me today.  I don’t know what all He has in store for me but I do know that a medication that helps with my General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is not here today.  Due to things beyond my control the pharmacy was unable to get the renewal prescription from the doctor yet and I’m without it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked God to take this away from me and put this at the foot of the cross, but it seems today God especially wants me to trust Him through the anxiety.  I say this because it’s past my first dosage for the day and I can feel the anxiety starting to rage.  There is no emotional reason for it.  Actually for a Bi-polar as far as depression or mania I feel remarkably stable.  Not so with the anxiety.  I feel as though I could run a marathon and it wouldn’t begin to touch the surface of anxiety going through my body right now.

I know that exercise helps and since I have a bum knee I won’t be doing any running but I will be doing some walking.  Actually probably a great deal of walking.

Trusting God that He will help me through this is my only other recourse.  I do trust that He will get me through the day.  As Psalms 40:1 says, “He inclined to me and heard my cry”.  I know that He hears my cry and He cares for me and will help me with this.

Unlike my sweet Tessa my dog who has “Separation Anxiety”.  Every since the first day I got her from the shelter I’ve been trying to get her to trust me that when I leave I’ll come back.  Yet, every time I come home from somewhere be it 5 seconds or 5 hours she acts like she thought I’d never get back.  Love her as I do her trust level is very low.  She knows I’ll feed her so she at least trusts me for that.  She also knows I’ll love her, so she can trust me for that.

I wonder how God sees my trust level?  I know and trust in His love.  I know in my head and trust in my heart that He will provide my needs.  But like my puppy when I haven’t heard from Him for a while, do I question if He’s there?  To be honest maybe yes sometimes.  My head want’s that proof and maybe if I were really honest maybe my heart becomes insecure.

For now I can say with assurance He is here during my struggling time.  My time of need.  When my heart cries out, “Help me Father, I am hurting and I need You.”

Oh, how good it is to have Him to be able to go to.  Today would be a dark day indeed without Him.  Thank you Lord for your trust worthiness.  You are truly an awesome God.  Without you I would be lost.

How is your trust level? Be honest with yourself and with your Lord, He knows already anyway.

A Woman After God’s Own Heart!