The Best Mind Trick Ever: How to Fight Anxiety with Gratitude

how to fight anxiety

How to fight anxiety with gratitude, and why it works.  A blast of cold air came in with my son as he stomped in the door. He dumped his backpack and jacket on the floor. When I reminded him where they belonged, he glared at me and snarled a reply. At my rebuke, he began to sob.  It’s not easy to tuck an angry, sobbing child into your arms, but I did so anyway, making him cry all the harder.  I guided him to the couch. We sat together. He cried, and I summoned up all the patience I could muster while also putting mentally putting together my supper meal plan. “What’s going on?” I asked, when the sobs had simmered down a bit.  Still sniffling, he choked out his response.  There had been a fight on the playground, and a friendship had been declared to be over. Just like … Read More

Your Ultimate Guide To Celebrating Lent…No Matter What Christian Tradition You’re From

Lent for all Christians

I first heard of Lent waaaay back when I was about 20. That first year, I decided I wanted to try celebrating Lent by giving up something: sugar. That was SO hard. And to be honest, I didn’t really understand why I was doing it.  Since then, I’ve learned a bit more about celebrating Lent. If you’re unfamiliar with it, here are a few myths and truths: Myth #1: Celebrating Lent is only for Catholics. Truth: Lent is observed by Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians alike. Lent is an ancient practice that began long before Christians used such labels to define ourselves. Myth #2: Lent is 40 days long.  Truth: It’s actually 46 days! Those extra 6 days are Sundays, when tradition says that you can break your fast. Myth #3: Lent is about fasting. Truth: Well, that one was partly true, but Lent isn’t just about giving up something.  There are 3 traditional Lenten … Read More

How To Find Comfort in God

the God of all comfort, comforts us

The Bible claims that God is “the God of all comfort”, but what does that even mean? This post gives 5 ideas on how to find comfort in God. I waited patiently for the Lord;he turned to me and heard my cry.He lifted me out of the slimy pit,out of the mud and mire;he set my feet on a rockand gave me a firm place to stand.He put a new song in my mouth,a hymn of praise to our God.Many will see and fear the Lordand put their trust in him.(Psalm 40:1-3 NIV) David wrote this Psalm from outside the pit of despair. He had the benefit of hindsight, and was able to look back and see the God of all comfort lifting him from the pit and placing him on a rock. But we don’t always have access to hindsight, and when we are sitting in the mud and mire, it can feel like we’re never … Read More

The Secret Ingredient In Habit Change

the secret ingredient in habit change

Welcome back to The Power of Simple Habits! In the first lesson I taught about how habits are stored in our brains, as well as the three parts of a habit: the cue, the routine, and the reward. Even though habits are usually formed automatically by a brain trying to save space, we can intentionally create new habits, and we can change old habits. In the previous lessons I shared the brain science behind creating a brand new habit, which we applied to family breakfast time. We also talked about how to change an old habit like a child’s bedtime. But sometimes it’s just too hard to start a new habit, or too daunting to think about changing an entire bedtime routine, which is why we look for keystone habits that initiate great change in our families.  Full series: The Power of Simple Spiritual Habits Starting a Brand New Habit … Read More

How To Sweeten Your Family Life With This Keystone Habit

learn to pray blessings over your child

Welcome back to The Power of Simple Habits! In the first lesson I taught about how habits are stored in our brains, as well as the three parts of a habit: the cue, the routine, and the reward. Even though habits are usually formed automatically by a brain trying to save space, we can intentionally create new habits, and we can change old habits. In the previous lessons, I shared the brain science behind creating a brand new habit, which we applied to family breakfast time. We also talked about how to change an old habit like a child’s bedtime. WE NEED THIS SPECIAL KIND OF HABIT But sometimes it’s just too hard to start a new habit, or too daunting to think about changing an entire bedtime routine.  That’s when we turn to keystone habits. Keystone habits are very simple habits that have the power to unlock huge changes … Read More

How To Start a New Habit (Like Reading the Bible With Your Kids)

how to start reading the Bible with your kids

Welcome back to The Power of Simple Habits! In the first lesson, I taught about how habits are stored in our brains, as well as the three parts of a habit: the cue, the routine, and the reward. Even though habits are usually formed automatically by a brain trying to save space, we can intentionally create new habits, and we can change old habits.  So let’s talk about how to start a new habit. I’m going to give the example of reading the Bible at breakfast time because it’s a habit I struggled to start. I wanted to, but I didn’t know how. You can apply these same principles to ANY habit you wish to start from scratch. So here’s where I started: I would wake up after my children then I would rush around grabbing food and changing diapers and helping kids get dressed and emptying the dishwasher then … Read More

The Power of Simple Spiritual Habits For Family Faith

the secret ingredient in habit change

Spiritual habits can be an incredibly powerful influence on our lives. Read on to find out why.  Last week, I walked into a McDonalds with my husband. I ordered a salad, and he ordered a big juicy burger and poutine. The next day he was bemoaning his horrible food choice because he felt so crummy afterward.  But I don’t think what he ordered was truly a choice.  THE POWER OF HABIT Way back in 1892, William James, an American psychologist said “all our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits”. More recently, scientific studies have shown that 40% of all our behavior is actually automatic habits, not actual decisions.  A habit is something that started as a conscious decision, but eventually, our brains just turned it into what’s a “habit loop” – we stop making a choice and we just do it. My … Read More

Why I’m not going trick-or-treating this Halloween

halloween pumpkins

The black and yellow wings tugged at my shoulders and the tights scratched my legs. Little bits of sugar clung to my chin as I peered behind my grandma passing out candy to the neighbor kids. We were passing out candy and in my preschool mind, Costumes + Candy = Best.Day.Ever. But except for the one time I helped my grandparents pass out candy, my family didn’t really *do* Halloween. Most years we avoided the issue altogether by hiding in the basement, and other years we had a fun family night at the indoor amusement park. One year we attended a “harvest festival” put on by a local church and I discovered that Pentecostals are a lot of fun. True story. As a teenager my friends weren’t terribly interested in trick-or-treating (although we were known to go Christmas carolling in mid-summer…) and as a young adult I helped out with my … Read More

How Protestant Prayer Beads Are Saving My Prayer Life

Make your own prayer beads

I didn’t realize until recently that Protestant prayer beads actually exist, but now they’re helping me grow my prayer life for the first time in a long time. The stresses of the day paraded through my brain. I could see each and every unmade decision, each possibility, each worry taking shape behind my closed eyelids. My body wanted sleep but my brain wouldn’t let me go there.  “God please…” I thought, then the worries reached their bony fingers back into my brain and snatched away the prayer.  I reached over to my end table, hand patting around in the dark. There they were. My fingers closed around the cool string of beads and I clutched them to my chest.  They were new to me, these prayer beads. For my whole life I had believed that using a tool to help me pray was an unholy cheat. Something used only by … Read More

Engaging God With All 5 Senses (Plus One Bonus Sense!)

How to connect with God using your senses

Engaging God with all 5 senses can truly help our faith grow. Historically the evangelical church has shied away from using senses (aside from auditory), but perhaps there is something to be learned from more ancient traditions. It comes every year: cinnamon-scented air, delicious desserts eaten without regrets, knitted sweaters snuggling our upper bodies in warmth, bright lights twinkling from eavestroughs, familiar songs being played in every building. What did those sensory images just evoke in you? Joy? Warmth? Excitement? I think the reason we love Christmas so much has something to do with the sensory experiences we enjoy every year, and that those sensory experiences have become traditions. Worship through the senses For the ancient Jews, the sense of smell was a key part of tradition of worship. The familiar scents evoked thoughts of God’s holiness, love and redemption. In fact, there was a very special incense blend that … Read More