What To Do When You Can’t Find Thankful…

Gratitude is not always second nature. There are days when it seems all hope is lost. One of those everything that could go wrong did go wrong type of a day and rock bottom turned out to be a few feet lower than you thought.

Finding God’s grace in struggles can be a challenge but it is possible. There are times you feel like you cannot find thankfulness. Regardless how devastating the struggle or if you are just drawing a blank there is always something to be thankful for.

There are many places you can look to count things to be thankful for. Go to your facebook news feed and rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Did someones daughter take their first step? Did someones son graduate high school? Thank God for the family and the blessing. Still in need of more ideas? Head to the Bible. Thank God for the miracles, the stories told, the lessons learned, who He is, and His promises.

Worship music is a nice way to shift our perspective from us, our thoughts, sorrows, ect to  a Godly and heavenly perspective. Additionally, sometimes in the search for gratitude one simply needs to remember to take care of themselves, eating right and sleeping. Listening to others encounters with Christ and stories of His goodness encourages gratitude within. Sometimes we need to take time out to tend to our weary souls.

What do you do when it feels nearly impossible to find something to be thankful for?

 

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“Know this: my God will also fill every need you have according to His glorious riches in Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King.” Philippians 4:19

Jehovah Jireh (God My Provider),

From the moment, I open my eyes at the break of day till the time the sunsets You provide. Daily, You provide me with food, clean water, shelter, clean air, and clothing. You surround me with lovely people whom I cherish. People who challenge me to grow closer to You, people who make me think, and people who support me. A wonderful church family. You have given me purpose each day air kisses my lungs.

Daily, You provide me with just enough to thrive. Enough strength, determination, compassion, love, and grace. You have provided the beauty of nature.

You have provided me with a thriving relationship with You. Blessed me with the Scriptures and the gift of prayer. You have blessed me way beyond my comprehension. You have blessed me in ways that I am unaware of. You have blessed me so greatly, yet so often I do not acknowledge the depth of all my blessings. You are my great provider. I will forever praise Your Holy name.

Amen

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Why Her?

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Comparison is the heartbeat of feeling like one does not measure up. It is a timeless issue.  Additionally, it is a struggle most encounter at an extremely young age. This struggle plagues women in a unique way. We compare ourselves to the woman who “has it all together” or to the media. Regardless of how hard we try we just do not measure up. At times, we allow ourselves to ask, why does she have God’s favor and I don’t?

The enemy desires to separate us from Christ and embed doubt into our minds.  Comparison is one of the battles in the war fought for a woman’s heart. This struggle is found in women in all walks of life, but today I want to focus a little on the woman battling chronic illness.

Having a “broken” or “malfunctioning” body causes one to feel inadequate. When you are drained from the pain, symptoms, emotional break downs, changes in your physical appearance, dealing with insurance, and doctors it is easy to into a comparison trap. It may be tempting at times to run away from God. One might become angry with Him question what she did to deserve this.

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We look at the healthy woman. It must be nice to get out of bed in the morning rested. It must be nice living pain free. It must be nice to have a job and be independent. It must be nice to go out on a whim without planning according to your symptoms and not be stuck in bed for a week after. It must be nice eating whatever you want when you want to. It must be nice brushing your hair without chunks falling out. It must be nice…

Perhaps, at times you have envied other women with chronic illness. The woman who has a prestige medical team, a husband who supports her, friends who check in, or has made substantial progress. Other times, maybe you envy your old healthy self.

Because of chronic illness your dreams have been shattered. You lost the woman you were before this illness plagued your body. It has altered every relationship in your life.

Why does she get to live the life you always dreamed? Why are you trapped in your own body? How do you move forward in a way that honors God?

You were made to bring honor and glory to Christ. You were created, precious friend to live an abundant life. You were crafted for thanksgiving not for comparison.

It is possible to overcome comparison one moment at a time through the strength of Christ. Being rooted in Christ is vital to survive life with a chronic illness. Drinking in His presence while resting in His arms. Allowing His Word to consume you until you overflow is essential.

Let’s leave comparison in the past and begin living in a way that honors God. I want to invite you to join in a Bible study about overcoming comparison. We will dig into God’s Word in inspiring ways as we study Rachael and Leah. Click here for additional information. Online Bible study is an essential tool if you are chronically ill.

“In her new book, Why Her?, Nicki Koziarz uncovers six truths we need to hear when trying to measure up leaves you falling behind. Because truth, like always, will set us free. And free women don’t have to measure up to anybody. Not even her.

In this 6-week study of Why Her?, we will use Nicki’s powerful message to help you:

  • Conquer what comparison can do to your self-esteem by applying six powerful truths to your everyday life.
  • Start thriving in your own skin again as you battle the ever-present “must be nice” syndrome.
  • Apply what the Bible says about comparison to your own situation as we learn from two important women in Scripture.” Proverbs 31 Ministries

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A note from Nicki:

“Yes, #WhyHerBook is a book on how to battle comparison with Truth. And we all need Truth. But there’s so much we can learn from the story of Rachel & Leah.

Maybe you’ve studied the story of Rachel & Leah before but perhaps not like this. One of the things I’m most looking forward to with the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies is to study Genesis 29-35 in depth through the teaching series.

You’ll meet Jacob, Laban, Rachel & Leah in a new way. You’ll learn about how Jacob wrestled with God and how that led to the resting place with God.

We’ll discover how to discern if something someone says about God in the Bible is true or not. And what to do when comparison tries to compromise the wellness of your soul.

 

I hope you’re signed up for the totally free Online Study beginning April 9th!”

 

A New Year Prayer

 

Holy, Holy is the Lord Worthy to be praised, Yahweh

 

“God is ready to overwhelm you with more blessings than you could ever imagine so that you’ll always be taken care of in every way and you’ll have more than enough to share.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 The Voice Translation 

 

Sovereign Lord,

With artistic compassion and mystery beyond human understanding, You crafted the universe. Logic, abstract thinking, and science bow to Your name. Each compliment You bringing glory to Your Holy name. You gave each atom a specific job to fasten Your creation together. You keep the universe together day and night. Painting the daily breathtaking sunrise. The details are important to You. Each plant, animal, and human has a distinct purpose. The wonders of the world belong to You. Every element bows at Your great name. What a powerful name is the name of Jesus!

You have been gracious in allowing me to live another year. I ask that You would transform my heart in this year. I desire to pursue You like never before, to be lost in Your love. Let me be so in love with You that my thoughts are consumed by You and Your goodness. Enable me to crave Your Word as daily bread, furthermore, let me cherish it. May I remain anchored in You. Set my soul on fire like never before. Renew my prayer life. Let me grow closer to You, Father, God. Open doors so that I may serve You in a new way.

I ask that I might find favor in  Your eyes. Motivate me in accordance to Your will. Let all I do bring honor and glory to You. Give me wisdom and understanding. Direct each breath I take in Your Holy name Yahweh. Help me to walk in obedience. Cultivate a heart of thanksgiving and praise.

I declare in the name of Jesus that the blessing ahead is better than the battle behind. I am confident that the wounds that I have endured will not hinder me but will be a window that Christ strength is made known. Though I may not understand it, each wound will bring glory to Your name.

Amen

“And I come, eager to offer a sacrifice of gratitude and call on the name of the Eternal.” Psalm 116:17

 

 

“I give thanks, for all You have done. And I will sing, of Your mercy and Your love. Your love is unfailing. Lord, I am grateful”

Does God Care About New Years Resolutions? 

New years can be challenging, even more so with chronic illness. Of course, there are many things ideally we would love to do, countless goals to set, but health is unpredictable. There are years that consist of back-to-back flares where the biggest accomplishment is living to see another year. Is it even worth setting goals with a chronic illness? Does God care about New Year Resolutions?

I do believe it is worth setting attainable goals each week and each day. Furthermore, I think God doesn’t care about a fancy out of reach New Year Resolution, but He wants Your number one focus to be Him. God deeply desires for you to grow closer to Him this new year, to worship Him more, and to love Him more. Additionally, He wants you to invite Him into each moment of your messy everyday life. He doesn’t want a few minutes only during your time with Him.

How do you invite Him into each moment? Focusing on Him during the day can be challenging but vital. We must be intentional. Thankfulness opens the door to live life, just as Jesus has called you too. It shifts our perspective to see God’s glory in every little thing.”No matter what the headlines shout, the world only has two stories: bless God or curse God.No matter what the world tries to sell, we all only get to choose from two shelves: Give God thanks or Give God the door. No matter what we’re facing, there are always only two roads: thanksgiving to God or dismissing of God.” Ann Voskamp

Moreover, a five-second prayer shifts your focus. A simple, help me Lord or give me grace in this moment is sufficient. Lastly, reciting Scripture you know by heart helps you to invite God into each moment. Our goal should be to continuously bring honor and glory to God’s name.

Choosing a word and corresponding verse of the year is currently trending. My word is thankfulness. I have chosen two Bible verses, And I come, eager to offer a sacrifice of gratitude and call on the name of the Eternal. Psalm 116:17. Come face-to-face with God and give thanks; with loud and joyful voices, praise Him in songs. Psalm 95:2.

Additionally, for the first time, I am setting goals for the year to grow in my relationship with Christ. A few examples include books of the Bible I want to read, finding two Bible verses to pray each month, memorizing a verse, and writing out a Bible verse every week.

Lord Jesus,

We praise You for Your tender mercy which allows us to have this New Year. Thank You for the countless gifts You have given us. Enable us to focus on You in everyday moments. Let us invite You into the messy moments of our lives. Allow us to grow closer to You in 2018. Let us love you more. We desire to bring honor and glory to Your name each and every day. Let us cherish Your Word like never before. Allow us to desire to spend more time with You. Help us to find new ways to grow in You. Amen

 

Thanksgiving

Crips fall beauty lingers in the air as people hurry to prepare. Nature adorn in the finest hue crafting an elegant view. Thankfulness consumes each heart uniquely setting people apart.

An individual’s definition of thankfulness is transformed when chronic illness enters their life. Simple things possess deep pleasure. Such as a walk in the park or a phone call with a friend. The delicacy of life is illuminated. Cherishing moments with those they adore is vital. Laughter is treasured.

A person’s list of blessings is as exclusive as their heartbeat, which is especially true of someone with a chronic illness. Generalizing thankfulness in the chronic illness world is nearly impossible, so I will share a few blessings of my own.  I am grateful for my medical team. I have made progress from the time I entered this facility. This is the best hospital I have been at. I am deeply blessed for the chance to be on Remicade. Though I don’t like being on medication, I am grateful to have it and for the help it provides. I am thankful for the friends I have made. The support that I have. The lessons I have learned from chronic illness.  I am thankful beyond words for the chance to continue my education at Liberty University online. I feel spoiled with the resources available to me. Fiction books provide a way of coping with pain and I have been blessed recently by Karen Kingsbury’s books.

These are a few examples of blessing from my life as a chronic illness warrior. I hope Thanksgiving day is a day you can cherish. One that is consumed with love, laughter, joy, and spoons. I pray the pain levels are low and the symptoms are few. Happy Thanksgiving Warriors!

Thanksgiving Inspired Kong

I had been in search of a new Kong recipe to let Abby try for Thanksgiving. I was disappointed with the Thanksgiving recipe on the Knong webpage. The recipes are not all bad. However, Abby has allergies. Every dog and their human are unique so check out their recipes to see if the Thanksgiving one is an option for your friend.  I figured I would create my own and share with you.

Don’t forget that table scraps can be dangerous for any pet! Filling their Kong is a special and safe way for them to celebrate Thanksgiving with you. After all, aren’t they what you’re most thankful for?

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Thanksgiving Day Breakfast Kong

Ingredients 

  • Peanut butter
  • Banana
  • Water
  • Kibble
  • Kibble soaked in water

At the moment this is Abby’s favorite Kong recipe. I use a nutribullet to mix the ingredients but a blender would work as well.  I combine than half a teaspoon of peanut butter, two small slices of banana, and cover the bottom of the cup with water. Then mix everything for ten to fifteen seconds. After I pour the mix into a bowl and take a handful of kibble to throw in. I allow this to sit for at least thirty minutes. Last, I stuff the kong alternating between the mixture and kibble soaked in plain water. On top, I seal with peanut butter. Most times, we can get two-three meals out of this.

Bananas are a great source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber, biotin, and copper. Bananas help boost the immune system, replenish electrolytes, and promote skin and coat health. In moderation, bananas can make a healthy, low-calorie treat for dogs. Peanut butter benefits include protein and healthy fats, vitamins B and E, and niacin.

Abby’s Thanksgiving Kong

Ingredients:

  • Sweet Potato
  • Coconut Oil
  • Kibble
  • Carrot
  • Pumpkin
  • I cooked a small piece of sweet potato and then cut it in half. I used half here and the other half later.  I used the nutribullet again.

I combined the sweet potato, water, and a little coconut oil together to make a paste. I do not have actual measurements because I use very little of each ingredient. I take a small tablespoon used for cereal and put each ingredient on the tip. I also added two raw frozen nuggets, which is optional.  Again, mix for ten to fifteen seconds. I pour the mixture into a bowl and add a handful of kibble.

I cut the other half of the sweet potato into tiny pieces. I slice the carrot so that I have three slices than cut again into tiny pieces. I added this to my mixture above.

I stuff about half the Kong with the mixture than I add some organic pumpkin. Then I stuff the other half and top with a bit of peanut butter.

Benefits of what is included:

Sweet potatoes are great for digestive health because they’re high in dietary fiber. They’re also low in fat and contain vitamin B6, vitamin C, and manganese. Sweet potatoes are rich in the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene. Beta-carotene converts to Vitamin A in your dog’s body, which is essential for your dog’s vision, growth, and muscle strength.

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Carrots are a good source of fiber, naturally cleans their teeth, Beta-carotene is an antioxidant which helps eyesight, and good for cholesterol.

Pumpkin is amazing for digestion issues of all sorts. Furthermore, it has antioxidants, can help with weight loss, good for the eyes, immune health, and hydrates.

*Note I freeze the Kong from seven to ten hours. Their webpage suggests about four hours.

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Wishing you and your doggie friend a very happy Thanksgiving with Love, Victoria, and Abby!

Slowing Down in Gratitude

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Hurry has become an addiction in today’s culture. How many times are we rushing through the day? We are in such a hurry, we cannot enjoy any moment, each moment becomes something to check off the to-do list. Overcome with stress.

Many nights before I go to bed, I recite my to-do list for the following day, hoping, that I am not forgetting anything. Hurry, business, and the to-do list becomes an idol if I am honest with myself. Are these idols in your life as well?

Chronic illness has forced me to slow down, but I still need to work on being more present in the moment. “Giving thanks for one thousand things is ultimately an invitation to slow time down with weight of full attention.” Ann Voskamp What if I pursued thankfulness more than anything else? If in each moment I thanked God for something instead of letting my thoughts wander, creating meaningless chaos, or run with emotion.

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Looking back I see serval things I am thankful for, even in situations that were painful. I do not rejoice in the pain or situation but carefully laced in there is a tiny treaure to give thanks for. Thankful for pain as a warning sign when my body threated to shut down, the medication received, and my nurses. Thankful for the closeness of Christ when my friends deserted me. I honestly feel if more often I would give thanks in the middle of the day that I would experience more joy. Like Ann Voskamp shared, I would enter more fully into each moment.

Ann recorded one thousand gifts in a journal. A simple yet genius idea. One thousand seems like a large number. An enormous commitment. However, each individual must begin with one, anyway.  I came to the conclusion that aiming for one thousand could encourage this to become a burden which would defeat the purpose. So, I grabbed a journal with few expectations in mind. Simply writing things I am thankful for from now until this time next year.

Let me share a few of the gifts I have taken note of.

  •  My mother whom is my source of strength, encouragement, and inspiration.The stunning woman she is. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for her or for how many things I am thankful for.
  • The pitter padder of children’s feet. The embrace of little friends.
  • The smell of kitties fur. Their comforting fur.
  • Capturing tiny moments with Abby in photos.
  • God’s presence. Faithfulness. Who He is.

I would be humbly honored if you, my friend, would join me on this journey of journaling gratitude. More than that to live an abundant life of thanksgiving. Taking time to pause and give thanks. Enriching daily life.  There is no better time to start than now. I have crafted three inspiration of gratitude lists; one for those with chronic illness, college students, and mamas. I hope you will print one out. Copy of Wedding Invitation

 

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El Elyon (God Most High),

Your beauty takes my breath away. Every molecule reflects who You are and worships You. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty full of wonder, majesty, and goodness. I witness Your faithfulness daily.

Often, I overlook the blessings in my life. Forgive me, Lord Jesus. I desire to divorce hurry. Enable me to slow down and to enter into each moment fully with a thankful heart. Give me eyes to see Your beauty and glory in the ugly. Cultivate in me a thankful heart.

Amen