I seem to bump into quite a few women who seem to either struggle with discouragement and mild depression or simply feel unfulfilled. When it comes to both these conditions, there aren’t necessarily simple answers, but I do believe taking one particular step could bring significant help. That step is to get outside yourself and begin serving those less fortunate! Yes, really.
This is God’s instruction to us all. In fact, He says in Isaiah 58 that the kind of “fasting” that he desires is not to look all religious by denying yourself food or pleasure. Instead he desires us to “loose the chains of injustice…to share your food with the hungry…to provide the poor wanderer with shelter. He says “then your light will break forth like the dawn and your healing will quickly appear” (Isaiah 58:8)
Is it time to stop focusing on what’s wrong with your circumstances and to look for opportunities to serve those in need all around you? I can almost guarantee that you WILL become more fulfilled when you begin helping others. Try it!
When life throws you an unexpected curveball, it’s pretty easy to sink into depression, bitterness, victimhood or gloom. For some of you, that curveball is catching your husband connecting online with another woman…or your teen developing a drug addiction…or a cancer diagnosis for you or a loved one. For me, my latest curveball was my husband succumbing to covid and passing away unexpectedly. I became a widow, and suddenly by whole life changed. My partner and companion in life was gone in an instant.
As I was taking a walk the other day and grieving with the Lord, I sensed him prompting me to do 3 things in order to move forward with joy and purpose in my life, despite the curveball that came my way. He whispered to me, “Tackle what needs to be taken care of each day, dwell on what is actually good in your life and let yourself enjoy those things, and look for the opportunities I’m giving you each day to partner with me in expanding my kingdom and being a great reflection of Jesus.”
Wow! As he spoke those 3 things to my heart, I could tell my mood started to shift. Instead of focusing on the loss or the heartbreak, God was giving me the recipe to break free from gloom and embrace the purpose and joy he still has for me. Let’s review those 3 things along with the Bible verses that correspond to each instruction:
Tackle what needs to be taken care of today…just today. Don’t focus on the “what ifs” of the future. Matthew 6:33-34 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Focus on the blessings you DO have in your life and allow yourself to actually enjoy those things. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Ask God to show you the opportunities he has for you each day to partner with him in reflecting Jesus and expanding his kingdom. This gives you joy and purpose! Colossians 4:5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel my shoulder and neck muscles getting really tight. My head starts to throb. I even sometimes feel a little short of breath…or like I can’t even draw a full breath. These are all warning signs that I am filled with toxic anxiety and worry!
What is the remedy for anxiety and worry. Well, the solution is often really quite simple (although hard to remember to do!). We must remind ourselves that Jesus loves us and that he is completely trustworthy! We need to speak truth to our souls!
King David, who wrote many of the Psalms. often talked to his soul. In tough situations or when he was consumed with fear, he would basically give a pep talk to his soul. He would remind his soul of the truth about God. For instance, in Psalm 42:5, David writes “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Is it time to talk truth to your soul?
I regain peace when I remind my soul that God is loving, God is powerful, God is wise, and God is in control!
Marriage is not one continuous fairy tale. Your husband is not perfect, and neither are you. Therefore, you will experience times of disappointment, frustration, and even heartbreak. The question is…what will you do during those “valley” times in your marriage? How will you rally yourself and stay in the game? Where can you find the motivation to fight for your marriage?
One powerful key to battling all the way through those valley times is to receive encouragement from other godly wives. You NEED encouragement! You NEED fellowship with other Jesus-seeking women.
The enemy is constantly whispering discouragement to you. He wants you to leave your husband. He wants to destroy your family. In John 10:10, Jesus says the enemy comes to “steal, kill and destroy“. But we can counteract the enemy’s schemes by asking godly friends to speak truth to us. Seek friendships with godly women who know the truth of God’s Word and who are encouragers. Be an encourager in their lives as well. You might have to be the one to initiate this time together, but it’s worth it! Ask a woman to coffee. Ask another woman to be your prayer partner and make an appointment to pray weekly for each other over the phone or in person.
Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” You need encouragement to stay in the battle! It’s worth it. Jesus has a good plan for your marriage. He has come that you “may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Have you ever caved in when you should have set boundaries in a relationship because of the “what if” questions? What if he leaves me? What if he leaves me and I won’t be able to take care of myself? What if he gets really upset if I confront him? What if….?
When you find yourself paralyzed with fear because of the “what if” questions, it usually means one of three things. Either you don’t really trust God when he says in Hebrews 13:5 that he will “never leave you nor forsake you”. Or it means you have allowed the spirit of fear to dominate your thoughts. Or it could mean that you have become your own worst enemy and convinced yourself you’ll never be able to set boundaries and stick to them. In other words, you’ve pummeled yourself with negative self-talk!
You CAN overcome these paralyzing fears. How about choosing to trust God’s promise to never leave your side (Hebrews 13:5)? Maybe it’s time to command the spirit of fear to leave you, in the name of Jesus (2 Timothy 1:7). Perhaps you need to stop telling yourself that you’ll fall to pieces if you respectfully draw a firm boundary. Coach your soul just like King David did throughout the Psalms. Tell yourself you will not crumble. Remind yourself you will not fall apart. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” With Jesus by your side, you have all you need. You’re not doing this alone!
Sometimes, we feel like we’ve reached the end of our rope! You may be discouraged because you’ve been praying for God to change your husband’s attitude or behavior, and it’s just not happening. You may be discouraged because you hoped your children would turn out a certain way, and they seem to be making bad decisions. You may be discouraged because you’ve been searching for a new job and you can’t find one that fits your abilities and availability. Now what?
Well, first, don’t give up praying. In Luke 18:1, the Bible says…”Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” So, keep asking God for a miracle. However, maybe it’s time to put on a new set of glasses. Maybe you’ve been insisting that God do what YOU think is best, instead of praying that God’s perfect will be done. Now is the time to ask God to reveal his perspective on this issue. Why don’t you ask him these 3 questions, and then spend some quiet time listening for his response:
1) Lord, can you help me to see this situation through your eyes?
2) How are you trying to change me or teach me through this situation?
3) Is there a lie the enemy is trying to get me to believe about this situation?
I’m learning lately that I can’t give away much of anything to anyone else, including my family, if I’m not filled up myself! So the question is: how do we get filled up? Well, certainly part of the answer is spending time reading God’s Word and asking Him to help us truly know His love for us. You might want to meditate on Ephesians 3:17-19 which says, “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
However, I believe we also need to take time to fill up our senses with all that God has created for us to enjoy! I’ve noticed that when I literally take a few minutes to sit in the sun and gaze at the beauty of God’s creation, I get filled up. I’ve noticed that when I snuggle my granddaughter in my arms and read her a favorite story, I get filled up. I’ve noticed that when I sit in front of a crackling fire with a cup of coffee, I get filled up, in a good way.
We all need to take time to enjoy what God has created. It’s not a guilty pleasure if it’s done in moderation, and as long as it’s not a sinful action according to the Bible. These things fill us up, and when we are filled up, we actually have energy and joy that we can give away to others. So, what fills you up? What brings you joy and a sigh of contentment?
I never thought I would be dating again late in life, but when my beloved husband Raul passed away in November of 2021, I sensed that God was saying he would provide another husband as my life partner for the rest of my years. So I began that crazy, sometimes frustrating, journey of dating!
I began applying some of the dating insights I had gleaned over my many years here on this earth along with guiding Bible principles. So, I want to pass on some of that to you in this short little devotional.
First, God makes it clear that a Christian should not be linked in close partnership with an unbeliever. 2 Corinthians 6:14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? This is critical! If you end up marrying an unbeliever, Satan has total entry to wreak havoc in your marriage! You two will not be pulling the same direction. Also, without the Bible as a moral compass, your husband will have no constraints on immoral or disrespectful behavior, and that can definitely lead to heartbreak for you.
Next, keep in mind that a lot of guys might SAY they are a Christian, and they might even attend church, but that does NOT mean they are a true follower of Jesus. You need to look for evidence of Christ’s presence in their life. Do they show any fruit of the spirit? Galatians 5:22-23 the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.
And here’s one other huge tip. Stay sexually pure while dating. Save sex until your marriage. This is clearly God’s will, and when we obey God, he blesses us. I don’t know about you but I want to have God’s blessing!! Here are 4 quick little tips to avoid falling into sexual sin while dating:
Don’t get horizontal!
Don’t stay overnight at each other’s homes even if you have good intentions to sleep on the couch.
Don’t stay together after midnight because that’s usually when temptation creeps in.
Resist the urge to French kiss before marriage. I know it’s tempting, but it’s also super arousing and may lead to where you vowed not to go until marriage!
I was reminded recently of how valuable it is for Christian women to gather with other godly women. A wife recently told me that, beyond learning valuable insights from God’s Word during Bible studies, what has really helped her is the encouragement, support and accountability from other godly women.
It’s true. Sometimes, we need that kick in the pants from another woman when we have wandered off track. Sometimes, it’s that empathy and warm hug from another woman when we are going through a challenging situation. Sometimes, what matters most is knowing friends in your women’s group will be praying for you during the week.
God’s Word tells us in Hebrews 10:24-25… “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another…” Our adversary wants us to isolate because then we’re more vulnerable! Without encouraging voices in our ear, all we hear are the enemies whispers of discouragement and hopelessness. So, the question is: Are you acting as a lone ranger or are you carving out time in your schedule to meet regularly with other godly women? We need each other. We are stronger together
I know this might sound too simple. I know you could be rolling your eyes as you read this. But give this a chance. A huge key to regaining some of your joy during challenges or after a heartbreaking event is…to focus on the things for which you can be thankful.
All of us tend to focus on what we don’t have instead of what we do have. By doing so, we become bitter, jealous, and depressed women. Now if you actually enjoy being bitter and depressed, you just go right on concentrating on what’s wrong in your life. However, there is a better way to live. God recommends it in the Bible. It’s called being thankful for what you do have. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances“. This means disciplining your mind to focus on what is good and right and beautiful. God puts it this way in Philippians 4:8 “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Do you have shelter and plenty of food to eat each day? Wow! You’re in the top 10% of the entire world! Do you have someone in your life (husband, mother, friend, child) who loves you? Wonderful! Do your legs and hands work? Can you see, hear, and taste? Thank God for the health that not everyone enjoys. Has God made himself known to you and drawn your heart to him? Awesome! That means he thinks you’re special and he decided before the beginning of the world to select you to adopt as his child!
Yes, there is a time to grieve losses in our lives. But we can’t stay camped out there! Let’s make a concerted effort to focus our minds on being thankful. Little by little, you may find your joy returning, even during hard times.