Looking for love in all the wrong places.
Right… I’m pretty familiar with that old tune. And I’ve certainly been there, done that. Lots. #IYKYK.
While sudsing up and tackling a sinkful of dishes a few days ago, I contemplated this age-old dilemma. Why do we, as humans, seek human love so voraciously? Not just human love… inappropriate affection, passion, desire, sex, intimacy, emotional bonds, connection… all of it. What are we so hungry for, and why are we willing to go to any lengths to get it?
And I mean any lengths… if you knew all the things I’ve done trying to get these things… you’d probably disown me as a friend or family member, and you’d certainly stop reading my writing. Trust me. When Paul talks about being the worst of sinners in the New Testament, I relate. Big time.
Why did I do those things? Because I was trying to fill a God Love Space. We all have one. This space can only be filled fully and accurately with God’s love. We either don’t know that or don’t want to accept that, so we strive to fill it with all kinds of other stuff. Human love and affection. Sex. Porn. Drugs/alcohol. Social media attention. Friendship. Emotional intimacy. Workaholism. Food. Excessive exercise and idolatry of the human body. Whatever… we just need to FILL IT UP.
While contemplating the God Love Space dilemma and seeking spiritual solutions, I yammered for seven minutes and created this podcast episode.
I hope you’ll listen, share, and comment. Tell me about how you relate. Ask for prayer if you need it. Share something you’re grateful for related to your own spiritual journey.
Spoiler alert: there is a solution. And it’s simple, but not easy. And I know this won’t surprise you…. but it’s spiritual, and it involves gratitude.
Thank God I found it.
Today’s guest contributor is Hannah Wingert, fellow mom & Christian writer. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with practicing gratitude, Hannah!
About 10 years ago, I decided to start a gratitude journal. I’d heard that writing down three things you’re thankful for each day could have a positive effect on a person’s attitude, and I figured an attitude adjustment wasn’t a bad idea.
I dug a mini spiral notebook out of my desk drawer and moved it to my nightstand right next to my water bottle and my asthma inhaler. Every night before I went to sleep, I spent a few minutes writing down three things I was thankful for that day. Every night for about a week, that is. Exhaustion from parenting young children and sheer forgetfulness soon made that short-lived habit fall by the wayside.
Recently though, I’ve picked the habit back up, but this time, I modified it so it works better and is more realistic for me. Just making three small adaptions completely changed how I view thankfulness and gratitude. Maybe these tips will help you, too!
Sure, it’s great to write down things in your life that you’re grateful for, but who are you thanking for those things? My gratitude journal is now a place where I write my blessings from God.
Instead, I write the three things I’m thankful for each day right in my devotional notebook I use each day. This keeps me more focused on God and makes it part of my regular routine without adding anything. If you don’t have a notebook you use for devotions, you can definitely start a gratitude or blessing journal specifically to help you be more grateful.
I used to think that I couldn’t do it that way because it was supposed to be things I was thankful for from that day, but then I realized that doing it in the morning kept me from skipping it because I was too tired at night. Also, it gets my heart focused on gratefulness before I dive into my crazy busy day.
I’ll be honest with you. Sometimes, it’s extremely hard to find things to be grateful for. There are some days when I have to really think hard to get that third or even second spot on my list filled, but it’s getting easier with time, and it helps me focus on the little things in life I have to be thankful for.
I’ve also started encouraging my kids to be more mindful about their blessings. All four of my children love these gratitude & devotional journals for kids from Gratitude and God that incorporate thankfulness right into a guided biblical devotion for kids.
Lately, I’ve really enjoyed Volume I (and am excited to read Volume II when I’m done!) of Mama Meditations: Devotional Book and Gratitude Journal by Bethany Wallace. I love that the gratitude is built right into the devotional for each day.
How do you find ways to encourage gratitude and thankfulness in your daily life?
You can find Hannah at SunshineAndSpoons.com or on social media:
Today I was talking to a recovery friend about the value of sponsorship. While listening to her talk, I realized (again) something valuable about sponsoring others in recovery.
When I sponsor (and you can apply this to mentoring others, too), I’m afforded the opportunity to RE everything :).
You know what I mean. Relearn. Reexperience. Reteach. Reflect.
I’m not just walking in front of the people I sponsor as a guide. I’m also walking alongside them, relearning and reflecting on the very struggles they’re complaining about. I have a different perspective, of course, and I’ve already been there and done that. But there’s something eye-opening about walking with; I grow all over again through helping them grow. And boy, am I grateful for that.
Recently someone I sponsor experienced a traumatic break in an intimate relationship. It was sudden and unplanned. And it felt cold and cruel.
The only reason I was able to offer more than Kleenex is because I’ve walked that path already–and by God’s grace, I’ve climbed out of the pit and am on the other side.
But for me (and for others), it’s more helpful and meaningful to have a sponsor willing to walk with me through my worst moments and greatest challenges. It’s more helpful to have someone share their experience than to listen to someone list off three things I should do to improve. It doesn’t just make me feel warm and cuddly and loved. It genuinely feels like the hand of empathy pulls me up, out, and through.
I hope you’ll take time to extend the hand of empathy and experience to those suffering, to those you sponsor or mentor, and to those you love. They’ll be eternally grateful.
I’m happy to share that Mama Meditations: Devotional Book & Gratitude Journal for Moms, Volume II, is now available on Amazon! If you prefer a signed copy, you can order directly from me (just keep in mind these copies typically take two weeks to order/sign/ship).
Mama Meditations: Volume II is a devotional book and gratitude journal designed for moms determined to grow closer to Jesus Christ while becoming whole, healthy Christian parents. Mama Meditations: Devotional Book & Gratitude Journal for Moms, Volume II continues the story-telling tradition of Volume I which readers grew to love. While maintaining the strong spiritual integrity and encouraging, beckoning exhortations of Volume I, Volume II of Mama Meditations calls women into an even deeper faith journey and greater discovery of Twelve-Step recovery principles.
Those of you who have already read Volume I will find that Volume II has slightly longer chapters and more entries related to recovery principles than Volume I.
Mama Meditations Volumes I and II contain:
✓ 60 recovery-oriented spiritual reflections by author Bethany Wallace. The entries, in story format, express lessons learned through parenting about how to become not only better moms but also joyful, light-bearing individuals God created us to be.
✓Readers seeking encouragement and support in recovery programs will especially benefit from Bethany’s experience and mention of Twelve Step recovery principles.
✓All entries are accompanied by prayer prompts, Scripture excerpts, and journal prompts with space for creating gratitude lists specific to each reader’s experience.
I hope you will join other moms on a quiet, reflective journey full of hope, laughter, encouragement, and realistic spiritual reflection in Mama Meditations: Volume II or give copies to your favorite moms!
Since my new devotional book and gratitude journal for moms will be released on Amazon April 15, I wanted to share a chapter of the book with you in advance to whet your reading appetites and to give you a glimpse of what this book is all about. Sometimes it’s difficult to make purchasing decisions if we don’t really know what we’re getting, right?
Do me a favor–if you feel this excerpt from Mama Meditations, Volume II, resonates with you, buy the book or share this post with a mom you love.
Remembering what my life was like before recovery is actually difficult sometimes. I’ve made some good choices day after day for a long time now. Don’t get me wrong—I am far from perfect. I think mean thoughts about people I dislike sometimes. I curse under my breath occasionally when another driver nearly causes me to wreck. I am human! I’m on a faith journey, growing toward becoming who the Lord made me to be. But that doesn’t mean I have poofed into a perfect mom, perfect wife, or perfect Christian.
Yet I am very grateful God has used recovery to help me grow closer to Him. The good habits I have worked hard to establish have become part of me. They’re ingrained in my soul. They are who I am now.
Occasionally I see photos pop up in my feed on social media, reminding me of who I was two years before I joined my recovery community. Wow, I think to myself. That’s really who I was. I really lived with him. I really made those choices daily. I felt that way every day!
Thankfully, the Twelve Steps instilled in me the ability to choose differently. One of the greatest things that happened unintentionally is that I started working the Steps five years before my daughter was born. I learned how to replace my attitudes and perceptions of cynicism, pessimism, and discontent with gratitude. My sponsors taught me how to work the Steps, which helped me grow in honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. I developed patterns of healthy behavior and appropriate boundaries. I began waking up early every day to spend time with God; this changed my life permanently. I came to believe time is my most precious commodity, and I started spending it more wisely, choosing only to invest in what matters most to me. The Lord set me free from many spiritual ties which bound me to past regret and sin.
And all this happened before my daughter was conceived. If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is.
Thank You, God, for changing me before giving me the opportunity to grow through loving my daughter. May I never stop growing closer to You.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” –Hebrews 11:6, NKJV
I’m so excited to share this news: the second volume of my Mama Meditations series will be released on Amazon April 15, 2021!
Many of my faithful blog readers and book readers have anticipated the release of volume II, but most were pleasantly surprised when I told them it would be published in April. The truth is I am not the fastest writer in the world, but I have been writing entries (chapters) for my Mama Meditations series for a few years and storing them. I didn’t know when I would decide to publish. When I was ready to publish the first volume, I had too much material for one book, so I opted to split it into two volumes.
If you’re reading this post but haven’t purchased Volume I, let me share a little about the series with you to catch you up. Mama Meditations: Devotional Book & Gratitude Journal for Moms, Volume I was published in early January. Volume II is very similar in style and content but with all new stories and spiritual reflections for moms to enjoy and learn from. In addition, Volume II contains even more recovery-oriented content than Volume I. I didn’t intentionally include more information or shared experience about recovery; it’s just what came out through writing. It leads me to believe God must want to use the second volume to reach even more moms in recovery than in the first volume.
I hope you will check out both volumes in the series! My intention in writing and publishing this series is to encourage and exhort moms who may be struggling to grow spiritually while raising their children, trying to find the beauty and goodness in motherhood, or even beating themselves up about every little thing they don’t do as well as they believe other moms do. I have been there. I’ve done that. I’ve battled my perfectionism, my critical nature, and all my defects of character. I have felt tons of mom guilt for working too much, and then I’ve faced endless frustration when staying home with my child. I’ve prayed to God to help me be more patient, and five minutes later, I have had to put myself in time out to avoid throwing a mommy tantrum. Through my work in recovery and my faith in God, I’ve learned so much from being a mom–and much of that through allowing God to show me truths directly through my relationship with my daughter. He’s helped me slow down, live where my hands are, and love more like He loves.
If you relate to what I’m talking about, and you want to know more, this series might be right for you (or someone you love!).
Oh! And here’s a tidbit of good news for you: Mama Meditations: Devotional Book & Gratitude Journal for Moms, Volume I, will be available FREE for you in Kindle format on Amazon April 30-May 3. If you love having a digital copy of your favorite books handy when traveling or when killing time waiting for the doctor or dentist (you know how it is), snag this free e-book. And be sure to tell a friend about this fabulous deal, too.
A few years ago I selected “placid” as a focus word. Each year, rather than writing New Year’s resolutions (which I have never been fantastic at keeping), I select a word as a focal point. Sometimes the word serves as a catalyst. Other times it’s a theme.
The year of “placid,” it served as a sort of meditative chime. I needed that word, that reminder to bring me back over and over again in the midst of chaotic waves of change, to a place of calm stillness. I needed to watch muddy waters clear.
It was the year after my father-in-law died. I was very close to him and so was everyone who loved him. He was magical.
During that time, I grieved. I learned it was okay to allow everyone grieve differently. My husband turned inward and almost refused to express emotion. My daughter is the complete opposite; she could earn an Emmy Award for her wailing and gnashing of teeth. I am generally not as expressive. For years, I kept emotions locked up tight (to my detriment). Only through recovery and counseling did I learn how to properly grieve, how to allow myself time and space to grieve without judgment. Now I can allow others to do the same.
Grieving teaches us things–more than we ever hoped to learn, really. Through grieving various losses, I learned who I was. These lessons proved to be a essential. Sometimes we need to help others through grief, and if we’ve never grieved ourselves, we’re unable to give people permission to feel, permission to hide their feelings, and permission to take as much time as they need to walk through the harrowing hallways of grief.
We all need different things when grieving. I need placidity. I need silence, fewer waves and less chaos. I need more alone time. I need to be around people who are okay with me not being bubbly, the life of the party, or enthusiastic and energetic. I need people who feel urged to check on me, but not urged to shove advice and empty platitudes at me. I need to allow myself room to feel and time to heal.
When I lost my father-in-law, I meditated on readings and Scripture about peace, stillness, and calm. I prayed continually. I also viewed a lot of paintings and images of placid places. I spent time in placid locations in nature, even on my own land. It was different than just being still, because I had done that before. It was more like joining in with an entire world of quiet, worshipful Creation. It helped me remain in step with the spirit of the notion of walking toward Jesus amidst a storm. This fed my soul during a time when self-care was very important and fostered my healing. It helped me become the person God could use for the next steps in my journey.
Today, I am walking through grief with a dear friend. I’m grateful I found my own path through grief a few years ago, or what help and comfort could I offer her now? Our own sorrows are never only about us unless we make them all about us. God uses every single hardship we experience and every single mistake we make for the benefit of others–if we let Him.
I’m excited to share with my readers and blog followers the opportunity to win a signed copy of my devotional book & gratitude journal for moms, Mama Meditations. If you enter the giveaway which ends March 26, you’ll also win a Starbucks gift card.
Mama Meditations: Volume I is a devotional book and gratitude journal designed for moms determined to grow closer to God while becoming whole, healthy Christian parents. The 200-page book contains 60 spiritual reflections and life lessons written in story format about how to become not only better moms but also joyful, light-bearing individuals God created us to be. Readers seeking encouragement and support in Twelve-Step recovery programs will especially benefit from hearing about my experience in recovery and incorporation of recovery principles throughout the book. All entries are accompanied by brief prayer prompts, Scripture excerpts, and journal prompts with space for creating gratitude lists specific to your experience.
I know the lessons God has taught me through being a mom will inspire, strengthen, and encourage you as a reader and blog follower, too, on your own spiritual journey.
Be sure to click HERE to register for the GIVEAWAY before March 26 to win a signed copy of my book and a Starbucks gift card.
If you don’t want to wait to see if you win a copy, just order a copy today.
I picked Maggie up from school, and she hopped in the car with the same vigor she’d expressed every other day that week. She immediately asked me for a snack and settled into her seat, humming a tune. I had no reason to suspect she’d had anything but a completely pleasant day, right?
“Maggie, how was your day?”
Great. We kept driving. But after 10 minutes on the road, I said something benign, and she snapped. Tears cascaded down her sweatshirt, and snot oozed down her face. Oh geez. Apparently “fine” was a very loaded word today.
“Maggie, what HAPPENED at school today? Because you aren’t fine.”
She explained an incident which I would categorize as mild bullying involving a few classmates. The teacher, thankfully, caught the other kids in the act and immediately cut the whole thing off. But not before the damage was done emotionally. Words slice into us, and when we’re told we’re not wanted, and we’re ostracized, we feel it to the core… sometimes for a very long time.
I felt really, really sorry for her (of course–I’m her mom). At the same time, I knew this would not be the first time this would happen. It’s public school. Kids who are insecure, hurting because they’re living in unstable home environments, or simply mean-hearted will always take out their frustrations, disappointments, and insecurities on other kids. Sometimes, these kids will bully others without even meaning to–other times it’s very intentional. I explained all this to Maggie, but I knew it wouldn’t make her FEEL better. So I also got her ice cream and cuddled her :).
Lastly, when I was no longer driving home, and we were settled in at home, I did the most important thing I could do in the entire world. The mom thing I must do daily, which we all must do as moms. I prayed for her, aloud, with her. I asked God to be there with her at school. I prayed for the kids who were mean to her (and explained to her why we must forgive those who hurt us, and that forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person). I prayed for God to send good-hearted girls to befriend her the very next day.
Guess what happened? A girl she’d been getting to know came up to her the next day at recess and told her she wanted to be her BFF. Tell me that’s not God! He’s always come through for me and redeemed the worst situations, and He’s doing the same thing for my little girl. I can’t wait to see how gigantic her faith becomes.
For more stories like these, check out my new devotional book & gratitude journal for moms, Mama Meditations, Volume I.
If you’re a local reader and Gratitude Cup blog follower, please make plans to attend the Mama Meditations book signing event February 6 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Bread of Life Bookstore in Batesville, Arkansas. I will be there with several paperback copies of my book for sale (ready to sign!). In addition, The Tea Crate, owned by my friend Shaelyn, will be on hand with free samples of delicious hot tea in multiple flavors. What better way to spend the Saturday before Valentine’s Day than shopping for Valentine’s Day gifts, sipping hot tea, and chatting with your favorite author (that’s me!)?
If you’ve already purchased a book on Amazon, bring it with you, and I’ll be happy to sign it for you. And while you’re there, don’t forget to register for two great drawings. The Bread of Life Bookstore is giving away a women’s devotional book, and I have collaborated with The Tea Crate to create a gift basset full of goodies (including a copy of both of my books), so we will give that basket away to one lucky winner, too. All who register will receive my e-newsletter (unless they opt out–so fair warning).
If you cannot attend the event but want to purchase a signed copy of my book, you’re in luck! You can do that through this website. Please note: I order copies of my book and then mail them to you so you won’t receive a signed copy as quickly as you receive an unsigned copy from Amazon.