Faith

8 THINGS TO DO FOR A JOYFUL HEART

682 1024 Melissa Mayer

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wearing: romper (c/o) + sunnies 

Today we are sharing 8 little things to do for a joyful heart. If you are in need of a little mood boost, try incorporating one, a few, or all of these habits in your lifestyle. They aren’t big changes either, just little things that can make a big difference.

1. Keep a gratitude journal

Dedicate a journal as your gratitude journal and start a numbered list of every little thing that you are grateful for starting with #1.  It can be anything from being thankful for a productive day, to date nights with your significant other, to having 20 minutes to read a book- nothing is too small or too big for the list! Doing this will turn your daily focus toward everything you have to be grateful for, and away from the small frustrations that can creep into your mind.

 

2. Pray for others throughout the day

Getting in the habit of constantly praying for others, both strangers and loved ones, will do wonders for your own heart. Saying a quick prayer for your friend, someone at work, or someone you noticed at the coffee shop is extremely simple, yet so powerful. You never know how badly someone needs your prayer!

3. Count your blessings before bed

Instead of counting sheep to fall asleep, try counting your blessings. It’s a beautiful way to unwind and put a stop to the never ending to-do list that might be cycling through your mind.

 

4. Plan a phone date 

Setting aside time to catch up with a dear friend or someone in your family is so fun and helps sustain the relationship. Healthy relationships are so good and necessary for the soul, but they do take some time and effort. Of course an in-person date is the best, but sometimes that isn’t always possible due to location and/or busy schedules. Show someone your love by reaching out and scheduling a time to catch up via phone or face time. And let’s be real, nothing is better than being at home in comfy clothes, on the couch, and on the phone with your bestie. Add a glass of wine to that and we have a serious party happening!

 

5. Read something positive

A good read is another go-to source of joy. Reading something positive is good for your brain and also makes your heart happy! I am currently reading All In by Mark Batterson before bed and love it. We are also big fans of books by Shauna Niequist, as well as titles from Judah Smith and Lysa Terkeurst. If you are a fiction lover, Me Before You is so good- there is also a sequel called After You, which is next on my to-read list.  Darling Magazine is also a wonderful choice for reading material- the articles in the magazine are always so authentic, deep, and encouraging. If you aren’t a subscriber already, we really recommend it!

 

6. Cook your favorite meal

If you truly despise cooking, this might not be for you, but this is definitely a joyful pastime for us. There is this peace that overcomes me when I am in the kitchen, listening to music, and creating something tasty. It is truly therapeutic! If I am feeling overwhelmed or slightly cranky, I know that I need to get my butt in the kitchen. To make it even better, cook for someone (or a crowd!) that you love and the joy will be multiplied.

 

7. Establish a daily ritual or two

Knowing what brings you joy and making it a priority each day is a great habit for your mind, body, and soul. It can be anything from going on a morning run, attending that evening yoga class, or making time to sit down and just enjoy that cup of coffee.

 

8. Listen to inspiring music

In a funk? Turn up the tunes and get ready to be inspired. Music has a way of flooding the heart and mind with good vibes. I almost always have Pandora or Spotify playing in the background when I am doing chores, cooking, entertaining, reading, and working.

image: jana williams

The [He]art of Adapting

768 1024 Tessa Venizelos

The first night during my second trip to Uganda stands out like a vivid memory even today. I had planned this trip to fall directly after my study abroad experience in Cape Town came to an end. I would once again visit the place that captivated my heart before returning home to America, and I was ecstatic. But, before embarking on this second trip, the nerves of traveling alone settled in. I sat on the plane in a row by myself listening to the people behind me having a conversation about the trigger signs of danger in a developing country. “When you see a UN plane, you know that something is going down,” he said as I nervously looked out the window to a few UN planes sitting on the tarmac. I quietly got off the plane, trying to assume an outward confidence that seemed otherwise distant, if not altogether absent. I mustered my things, holding my passport in hand, sought out an ATM, and mulled over all the things that could possibly go wrong in getting myself through border security. But, the familiarity of the terminal- a place I had been before- swept away my nerves in an unspoken sense of assurance and security. I found my cab driver waiting for me with a smile and a warm welcome to a land I had wholeheartedly learned to love only a few months before. As he drove me to my hotel, he began to talk about his home, his family, and his work, and as he began to open up about his life, all my fears were seemingly gone. After settling in my room, I retreated to the common room where I sat with a cup of tea and reflected on my study abroad experience. My heart was full. In those moments, I felt the weight of the joy that those months in Cape Town provided me with. I felt all the growth of a woman experiencing a different culture, hearing the stories and understanding the lives of people with different upbringings. I felt the compassion that comes from lessons through experiences- experiences with people in a post-conflict society, experiences of personal growth, and experiences in overcoming previously ingrained fears and constructed dispositions. I felt reinforced in who I was and wholly different at the same time. I was humbled, reminiscent, joyful, and grateful. And I found myself in a place that, before my experience in Cape Town, equally transformed my life. In this hotel cafe, at that point in time, I was a different person than on my first trip to Uganda. I learned more, I experienced more, my heart was more torn, more broken, and more healed.

I adapted.

The funny thing about adapting is that we never get used to it. Since that night in Uganda, I have adapted to new circumstances, different situations, and new places ten times over. My heart grew in new beginnings, it was broken with new endings, and it healed again as I learned to move on. With each new beginning, I often find myself thinking, “I will never get used to this.” But, as time progresses, as I trust myself, and as I allow things to fall into place, I slowly and surely adapt to my surroundings. Usually, just when I grow comfortable with where I am, I am thrust into the cycle of adapting all over again. And, again, I find myself wondering, “I don’t want to get used to this again.” But, something beautiful happens each time. Each time I think I cannot adapt again, each time I think I am not capable of growing again, my strength is tested so I can prove myself stronger. My faith is tried so I can prove myself more faithful. My growth is expended so I can prove that my growth is ever-evolving. My compassion is stretched so I can prove that my heart is ever-reaching. My spirit is pressed so that I can see more clearly who I am.

As we adapt, we expend part of who we are to the circumstances, people, and places around us. We grow more comfortable with who we are and where we are, and then we are propelled to adapt to a whole new situation, a whole new lot of people, and a whole new surrounding. And, each time we adapt, we are reminded of the process we underwent the time before. We remember how we overcame uncertainty, fear, sorrow, and pain. We remember the people who came alongside us, who quieted our racing thoughts, assured our uneasy spirits, and calmed our diffused emotions. We remember the purpose that was fulfilled in going through the process of adapting. We recall those special moments, those influential people, that we were able to share our lives with. And from these memories, we are reinforced in our purpose and we are empowered to adapt again.

Then, when we welcome the process of adapting, we continually allow ourselves to grow to unparalleled destinies. As we adapt, we grow more into who we are, and as we continue to grow, we are more capable of offering that new growth to all those around us. We should continue to allow ourselves to adapt to new circumstances, new people, new places, and new situations because the world deserves all that each of our unique and individual spirits have to offer it. We should continue to adapt, trusting that these new circumstances equally shape us into who we are and use who we are in order to make the world a little bit better. So, let us continue to ever-adapt, using the strength we find in that process of adapting to propel us into giving all that we have to give to the world around us.

While We Wait

150 150 Tessa Venizelos

“Everything will work out in the end”: a phrase we all have heard muttered to us at one point in our lives. I am the first to say that patience is not an attribute that I have been blessed with. When I want something, I want it immediately. When I want something to happen, I do everything in my power to make it happen as soon as possible. But even still, I have always trusted the quiet work of time. I believe that with time, we gain the healing that we need, we acquire understanding that may not have been known otherwise, we learn infinitely more about ourselves, and we grow undoubtedly more compassionate about the world around us. But as I wait for the nature of time to allow things fall into place, I often find myself wondering, “What do I do in the meantime?” It is completely against my nature to sit back and allow things to happen. I want to do something, I want to work at something, and I want to know that with whatever I am working for, there is an end goal in sight.

So, what do we do in the meantime? What do we do when we cannot do anything at all? Throughout this past year, I have learned to let time run its course. It has been both necessarily humbling and completely frustrating. But, in my moments of restlessness, I have learned that letting go has freed me to gain far more than I could have ever dreamed of. A year ago, I found myself in an LSAT prep course. I spent my summer days taking practice tests, attending online classroom tutorials, watching videos, learning skill sets, researching top law schools, and crunching numbers that would ultimately determine where I would lie on a spectrum of students all hoping to achieve the same thing. About halfway through the course, and few months before the test date, I decided that I did not want to attend law school after all. While I felt convicted that pursuing a law degree was not what I wanted to do, I forced myself to keep trying it. Though I wish I could say it was the drive of perseverance that kept me to my studies longer than I wished to be, it was actually the fear of not knowing what I would be doing otherwise. My fear, instead of my passion, was driving my decision to stay in that LSAT prep course. For me, this path held a somewhat known four years ahead of me. I would study for the test, take the test, work in the meantime, apply to schools. Then, I would choose, from a hopeful competitive batch of schools, the perfect school for me. After that, I would spend three years in school, learning, working, experience the legal world. I knew what was ahead of me. But, if I followed my heart, if I listened to my instinct that was steering me away from those known four years, consequently leaping into the unknown, I would land in exactly that: pure, raw, dark unknown. “What would I do?”, “Who would I be?”, “Who would I become?” were some of the questions that plagued me during this inner battle with myself in trusting and following my heart or living in security.

What I was not aware of, though, was the outflowing amount of opportunity that lay ahead of me in my decision to follow my heart and leave my fear behind. Today, I am preparing to move to London, to attend graduate school at London School of Economics, and to begin my journey towards a career in journalism. In hindsight, I can confidently say that with time, everything worked out the way it was supposed to. Before graduating college, I would have never pictured myself living in London, pursuing journalism, or even writing for a blog in the year after graduation. And although everything worked out better than I could have ever imagined it to be, I still had moments of doubt, times of restlessness, and instinctively found myself wondering, “Well, what do I do now?” But, those quiet moments taught me that what I found my security in was not sufficient for the longing in my heart. I had to learn to allow my sense of security heed to the will of my heart.

You see, we often idolize our sense of security. We find ourselves worthwhile when we have a security in our futures. We attribute value to ourselves when we are actively pursuing our futures. On the contrary, we wallow when we cannot actively do anything, when we lose control, when things are out of our hands. But, the truth is, our best prediction of what our future holds does not nearly reflect any amount of our worth. You are worthy whether or not you are pursuing your dreams. You are worthy even in the midst of the chaos and calamity of the unknown. You are worthy while you wait to figure it out- whatever that “it” may be. You are worthy even when you do not have anything figured out at all. You are worthy.

So, as you wait, as you ponder, as you rest, as you feel helpless, and as you begin to dream again, let your worth be found in the strength of who you are. As you wait, let your spirit be free in the person you know yourself to be, instead of the future you think you ought to achieve. Believe in your worth- not because you have carefully mapped out the next five years of your life, but because your life, thus far, has created a uniquely beautiful, strong, and worthy person. Believe in yourself today- because you stand confidently and wholly loved in who you are today more than any other future “you” that you could possibly dream up. While you wait, believe that you are the truest “you” that you could be and that you stand distinguished exactly where you are, not wherever you think you ought to be.

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