Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Life Changing Decision (well, for me anyway)

I've always described myself as a "runner wannabe." For the first time in my life, I feel like maybe I am turning a corner...I started running 8 weeks ago with a friend doing the program from the couch to a 5K (C25K), and I actually enjoy running for the first time ever. Maybe its the camaraderie of running with a friend or the joy of getting my heart rate up while enjoying the fresh air. Whatever it is, I am thankful.

I decided in January to make a conscious effort to take better care of myself. I have avoided sugar and carbs so far in 2016, and partner that with running and I feel so much better.

For so long I knew I needed to exercise; exercise is my stress release, but yet I never found enough time to do it. I've learned a valuable lesson in all of this. Changing behavior begins with a conscious decision to start. One day I decided not to eat sugar and to exercise -- and I did not. The next day I made the same decision. Over time, I strung several days together and the result is a much happier, healthier me.

So, what habit do you need to change? What is it that you need to stop making excuses for and just start? Make a decision to do something different today - change happens one decision at a time.

Who knows, maybe you'll turn a corner like me. I'm no longer a runner wannabe but slowly but surely, I am becoming a runner.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Start writing!


Did you know that there are therapeutic benefits to journaling? Not only does it help you to purge negative thoughts and feelings as you write them down, but it also helps you to gain perspective. In a recent study exploring resiliency factors in women who lost their husbands to suicide, five of the six women discussed how writing in a journal or on a blog helped them move forward in the grief process.

We talk about the importance of exercise for our bodies, but journaling may be similarly helpful for our mental health and spiritual health. This allows us to see how we've changed and grown, and also helps us to identify areas where we may be stuck.

It isn't so much about how much you write or how often -- the key is to JUST WRITE!

I encourage you if you are not doing so already, take time to journal. Write when you are mad. Write when you are excited! Share your heart on paper. Not only will you be glad you did, but who knows -- your words may be an encouragement to someone else in the future.

How has journaling been beneficial for you? Will you share your experience with journaling to encourage others?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Dissertation Journey...

For the next several months, I will be immersing myself in research regarding resiliency factors in widows bereaved by suicide. I will be interviewing women who lost their husbands to suicide, hearing their stories and searching for meanings and trends to help others in the future who face such devastating loss.

I consider it a privilege to listen to the stories of these strong, resilient women who have endured fierce hardships both before and after the suicidal loss of their husbands. I hurt with these ladies; at times, I cry with them, and yet I rejoice at where they are today in spite of the past.

I ask you to join my in praying for these ladies as they share their stories in an effort to inspire and help other women bereaved by suicide. I also ask for you to pray for me as I walk alongside some of my "co-researchers" darkest  memories. Pray for wisdom. Pray for insight. Pray for diligence and perseverance. Pray for unspeakable joy in the midst of pain.

The work is grueling, but I hope and pray that the end result will encourage others, offer hope, and potentially save lives.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

This is your brain "In Love"


Far too often, I hear people talk about falling in love as if love is similar to tripping and falling into a pit. If you can fall into love then you can fall out of love. This "falling" most people talk about is based on feelings. When a couple first "falls" for each other, the brain releases dopamine which is a feel-good hormone. Your brain continues to produce this pleasure-inducing chemical each time you think about your new "love." As the relationship develops, the brain releases adrenalin, epinephrine and norepinephrine which fuel the infatuation and obsession.

The problem is that many people equate this pleasure sensation with love. The body can only sustain high doses of the euphoric brain chemicals for so long. With time, the release of pleasure-inducing chemicals decrease and many people then believe that they have "fallen out of love."  Then the cycle starts over...boy looks for girl to make him feel butterflies and excitement only to find that in time, the feelings fade.

Equating love with the way you feel is dangerous. If parents based loving their children on the times when they felt unadulterated bliss from their kids, there would be many loveless days in the family. First Corinthians 13 tells us love never fails.

I believe one of the reasons so many relationships fail today is because of the shallow view of love. First Corinthians gives a definition of love that requires sacrifice, commitment, and forgiveness. Love is a verb; it is a choice. We love because we choose to love, not because someone else makes us feel good or makes us happy. I hate the quote, "You complete me," in many Hollywood movies (as if we are somehow incomplete until we meet the one our soul loves -- hogwash). Instead, I love the lyrics to the more recent song by Casting Crowns "Maybe we were meant to be broken together."

There is no perfect Mr. or Mrs. Right out there. There are no perfect people (apart from Christ). Love keeps no record of wrongs, always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.

May we love with a biblical love!



Thursday, February 11, 2016

Email correction for prayer partners

Several of you have notified me that you tried to respond to my email about needed help on my prayer team. I put the wrong email address -- Oops! (I am fully human). I have corrected it on the page but wanted to give you the proper email.

natalie@tearstojoy.org

Please email me if you would like to be a part of the prayer team!