Author: felishajoyce@gmail.com (page 1 of 19)

Holy Spirit, You Are Welcome Way Down Here

I’m finding that I have a hard time writing about life as it’s happening. I’m better at narratives, which means I find my footing better in hindsight. Bear with me, as I attempt to share in the midst…

2017 has had some really big moments. We bought a house, Hosanna learned to walk, Josiah started reading…we also lost a baby.  Just writing that sucks the wind out of me.

I’ve found myself back in counseling, because I’ve been a total mess since the miscarriage. I feel like there’s usually a single gripping moment that makes or breaks a blog post, but please understand, the point of this post isn’t about our loss. Continue reading

Stop Hiding. Shame is Not Your Guide

There’s this thing that keeps up isolated, this thing that keeps us from being freely connected to Christ and the people in our lives. I’ve been pondering this thing, SHAME, because of the destruction I see it causing. Shame is a liar. It tells us that our sin, our struggle, our mess is unique. It says we aren’t worthy to share in the communion of Christians. Shame tells us that NOT admitting our problems out loud somehow makes us stronger, when in reality, shame is the very thing that makes us the weakest. It makes us the most vulnerable to breaking down and dying spiritually. Continue reading

It is Possible to Live TOO Small

If you have read many of my blog posts, you may already know that I really like the idea of minimalism and its benefits. I believe in living small, and I try to keep my life relatively simple. However, the last five years have taught me that it is possible to live TOO small. Sometimes, less is NOT more.

I’ve been pretty introverted around here. Despite the MANY blessings and exciting events in the last year, I really struggled with anxiety and depression. I’m not a stranger to those things, but I think they got the best of me, because I thought I had grown beyond their clutches. True to my nature, I withdrew from writing, because I want to be a source of encouragement, and I just wasn’t a wellspring of positivity. I considered being vulnerable and talking about the ways I was hurting, but the words just wouldn’t come. I was stuck. And then I felt guilty and like a failure. It was a spiral, but I’m not sure I was even fully aware of it.

When we moved into our new home in April, I felt a very sudden loosening of those chains. Our new house, which I believe was an absolute gift being held for us by God, is a lot more airy and open. The four years prior, we’d lived intentionally very small so that we could pay off some of our debts and pursue the life we wanted for our kids and us. We learned and relearned that we really do need a lot less than we think. But those small spaces became even smaller when we added another sweet baby to the family. Her person and her belongings tipped the scales of what could comfortably fit in the space that we’d chosen. Daily, I was overwhelmed and even completely overcome by the clutter around me. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t purge and organize enough to really make it work. I’ll never forget tripping over laundry baskets to cook dinner and wash dishes. Just the basic functions of a stay-at-home-mama were extremely tedious.

Living small wasn’t serving us, so its very purpose was defeated.

Our new home, with the same amount of possessions as our apartment, now gives us the space we need to breathe. SPACE is a good thing. We still live small, but we can stretch out and live more fully. I can be hospitable in ways I never could before. I can live and work in close proximity to my children and not feel smothered. The possessions that enrich our lives have their own places and can be stored out of site, which creates an environment that is less visually stimulating. In short, this home is peaceful, and for that, I thank God continually.

We were able to host both sides of our family for Hosanna’s first birthday! 

More than necessary cabinet space is great for little explorers to play and hide!

We have time and space for blanket forts!

These quiet moments with my babies make life so sweet.

A yard of our own means we get to own pets. Meet Harold “Harry” Super Cat Dummel!

I realize that moving into a larger space isn’t always an option (it wasn’t for us for many years), but our situation is indicative of our need for space in many ways. We need space to think, to breathe, to grow. That doesn’t always mean physical space. We need to keep space in our schedules for Sabbath rest, for connection with the people in our lives, for communion with God. Are we tripping over the laundry baskets of life on our way to eating spiritual and emotional food? Laundry and serving and paying bills are all necessary parts of life, but when they begin to crowd out the peaceful moments that keep us going, we are bound to shut down.

Whether it’s my upbringing by two very hard workers or my type A personality, I’m a person obsessed with productivity. Learning to juggle two kids and a house that refused to stay clean got the very best of me in every way. I worked constantly and forgot to take time to breathe and fill up in my own unique ways. I pushed away my husband and kids in the name of cleaning and seeking spatial peace that wasn’t to be found. Thankfully, hard lessons can be learned, and I’m beginning to once again care for my family and myself the way that I should, which means a whole lot more than physical work. The depression and anxiety are mostly at bay. Intentional time spent building my relationship with my husband, my babies, and my Savior are all keys to emotional strength and well-being.

If your life is so busy that you don’t have space to breathe deeply, please take a Sabbath rest. It is possible to live TOO small. You can live with too little physical AND emotional space for a healthy lifestyle. Moving into a larger, more open home was extremely helpful to me, but depression and anxiety are imminent if I don’t follow God’s way, which includes hard, meaningful work, but also deliberate rest.

The One That Got Away

Hey friends, how are you? I am doing well, and I find my days very full between two kids, creating art, etc. I’ve been feeling the need to write for some time now, and tonight my heart just became heavy enough with a message to make it a reality.

“The one that got away” has been on my heart, and I can’t shake the feeling. I’m not talking about a guy. That’d be a scandal for a Christian mom blog, wouldn’t it? No, I’m talking about a friend who walked away from Christ, and I’m responsible. Just admitting that is a gut check.
The truth is no singular person is to blame for the spiritual life of another, but we contribute to the walk of others, don’t we?

Truthfully, this could be about the ONES that got away, because I’ve hurt, confused, pushed away quite a few friends.

There was a time in my life when I was about to walk away from Christ myself, and this is probably when I did the most damage, at least by a tangible measure of friends who no longer follow Christ. The reasons I made a mess of things weren’t because of my own doubt. No, that may have brought my friends into the fold. My failure was in pretending that I was okay and had a faith worth modeling. Maybe if they’d known they weren’t alone in their questions and struggles they would have come a little closer to the Cross.

I spent those days screaming my devotion to Christ. In my experience, the ones who are the loudest are the ones hiding insecurities. Allow me to prove myself by distracting you from what is really going on behind my closed doors.

Oh it hurts to look back on those days and to see the results of my phony faith. I’m friends with these people on Facebook, and I see their disdain for the church and its members. Sure some people would walk away regardless, but in so many of their lives, I cannot claim to have provided them with any viable argument that they might be wrong about the church. Nope, I confirmed their thought that Christians are just legalistic, hypocritical, and loveless. Lord Jesus, forgive me.

May I implore you to be real about your faith? Drop the smoke screen and mirrors. If only I’d told him, “I’m struggling, too. I’m not really sure this is all real. I’m scared to death, but I’m hanging on because the love of Christ is the only place there seems to be hope.” Maybe he wouldn’t be angry and a decade beyond any sort of connection with Christ.

I know I’m not perfect, and there is grace and forgiveness for my mistakes. I’m growing and being sanctified with each passing year. But I wish I wouldn’t have lied and pretended that my faith was secure. Maybe he wouldn’t have gotten away. So much of following Christ and discipling others is being open about our own brokenness and our lowly position before a Holy God. I wish I’d known.

I don’t have eloquent words to say, but this is bringing me to my knees. My heart aches, because I could have done more for the Kingdom by being openly heartbroken than I ever did by feigning joy.

LORD, please bring my friend back to You.

2017, The Year of Grace

I always look forward to January 1. It’s a fresh start…and I really need a fresh start this time. Last year was one of the best years of my life, but also one of the hardest.

I am deep-down-in-my-soul tired.

Physically, I’m exhausted because apparently not every baby in the world will sleep through the night like Josiah did. Mentally, I’m spent because meeting the needs of two children is a lot harder than it looks. Spiritually and emotionally, I’m worn thin because 2016 found me putting so much pressure on myself to reach that lofty goal of perfection. I hate to admit that, but it is absolutely the truth. There were some ugly moments in the past 365, because of self-inflicted anxiety. I was hard on my family and hard on myself.

Therefore, I’ve decided to make 2017 the year of grace. I understand the concept of grace from God on a cerebral level, but I have very little understanding of how to apply it. This year I need to relearn grace.

Grace for…

  • my lack of faith in tough moments
  • my inability to be the mom I thought I’d be
  • the times Dustin and I don’t connect
  • the nights I fall to pieces because I’m just so tired
  • the times I lash out instead of reach out for help
  • the ways I’m failing my kids
  • the days I spend too much time on social media
  • my kids’ lack of baby books and Pinterest crafts
  • the dark circles under my eyes and my thinning hair (thank you postpartum hair loss!)
  • my squishy tummy
  • my messy house (hello dishes mountain!)
  • the way my van makes us look just a step above homeless (I’ll clean it out eventually when I have to take someone somewhere…maybe)
  • my less than glorious spiritual (lack of) disciplines
  • the days when homeschooling is lackluster
  • all the nights I don’t do yoga
  • all the days I can’t juggle everything and end up eating chocolate in fetal position…

Is that list long enough for you to see that I am a mess in need of grace?!

I’m really excited to see what 2017 holds, but I’m going to choose grace for all the ways it might not go well and all the ways I might fail. I have a lot of goals for the year, but I’m going to try to be gentler on myself when I can’t meet the demands of my New Years’ Resolutions. And in that same spirit, I’m going to try to take it easy on others, as well.

Ain’t nobody perfect but Jesus.

And boy, don’t we all need His grace…

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