Life on a Loop

Do you ever just feel like your life is on a continual loop? Like you are just stuck in the same pattern day after day? It is often hard to avoid that as we muddle through our adult life with routines of work, school, parenting, and so much more. Whether we like it or not, we as humans tend to establish patterns in our lives. I have found that some people thrive on patterns while others grow weary of them. I am of the nature to implement routines and patterns wherever I can. It gives me a sense of stability and sense of control. But for those like my husband, it can become laborious and downright exhausting. 

These outward patterns can be more easily identified, but recently I have been giving a lot of thought to the inward patterns of the mind. Sometimes I see these inward patterns displaying themselves as I go about my outward daily routines. When I pick up the same toys off the living room floor for the 8th time in one day, it is easy to become discouraged and frustrated. when I am putting the 3rd load of laundry into the washer, I begin to feel like no one notices all the work I do around here. When I wash yet another sink full of the never-ending pile of dishes, I begin to feel the weight of all the things I need yet to accomplish while knowing the kids tugging at my leg will never allow me to get it all done.  As I allow these routines and thoughts to weigh me down, I am setting my pattern of thinking for the day. I am becoming the “Negative Nelly” that I rather emphatically deny to my husband that I am. 

Have you ever argued with a 3-year-old? It’s a daily occurrence in our home right now. These tiny humans are the worst to argue with because they have little to no logic. It takes all the brain power you can muster to answer their question, “why can’t I have fruit snacks for breakfast?” for the biiiilllllionth time. You know they already know the answer but it is useless, and exhausting, and you just cannot understand why they keep asking… honestly! But imagine that same 3-year-old representing our negative thinking, the thoughts we have running through our minds at lightning speed with no finish line in sight. We logically know that we cannot expect our house to be immaculately clean all the time, or our children to never pick fights. Yet somehow, we cannot resist the urge to groan every time we see the toys all over the living floor, we cannot help but roll our eyes and yell “knock it off!” every time we hear the kids fighting in the other room. It becomes instinctual to react a certain way without even really knowing what we are doing. Just as our toddler is not taking the time to process the answer you give over and over, we are not taking the time to process what a messy house really means, or why our kids are frustrated. We habitually default to the same thoughts over and over because we have trained our minds to do so. 

I am certainly no expert on the brain nor its patterns, but it is becoming painfully obvious to me that this cognitive loop of negative thinking has directly impacted my daily routines and has taken over my attitudes. I was reading through an interesting book on this topic called “Switch on your Brain” by Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Cognitive Neuroscientist. She says “As we think, we change the physical nature of our brain. As we consciously direct our thinking, we can wire out toxic patterns of thinking and replace them with healthy thoughts.” She also says, “When you think, you build thoughts, and these become physical substances in your brain.” So this is what a leading cognitive neuroscientist has to say about the patterns of our thinking, but what does the Bible have to say, and does it fit with the science?

Here are some verses that relate to our mind:

 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he -Proverbs 23:7  So science is proving what Scripture already says.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” -Romans 12:2   God changes the way we think, and it is good and pleasing and perfect! Perspective!

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” -2 Corinthians 10:5 Take every thought captive… is it even possible? God’s Word says it is. But how?

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”. -Philippians 4:8 Replace! Replace! Replace!

These verses are great to keep at the forefront of our minds when trying to combat our negativity. However, even with Scriptures like these in our minds, it can be a struggle to actually carry out the “replace method.” One very important key, I believe, is found in implementing Psalms 46:10  “Be still and know that I am God.”  There is great power found in stillness, something most Americans, and many Christians, and especially moms, have no time for. When we have no time for prayer and meditation, our feelings, emotions, and thoughts will continue to call the shots. Take time to slow down, to be still before God, asking Him for His power to course through your mind as HE transforms your thoughts. This may not be an hour or two every morning. It could just be slowing down when we feel the negativity rising, and breathing a “Thank you God” in sincerity, knowing that God will continue to transform us from the inside out. 

There are other Scriptures that highlight the power of our thoughts, but I hope you see the truth behind God’s timeless words. What you allow into your mind often decides your reality and ultimately your legacy. I am reminded of this verse in Exodus 34:7 which says “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” Sobering when we remember that not only do your thoughts shape your life but that they could also influence the lives of your children, their children, and generations after that. This is a heavy thing to consider, but isn’t it true that we often take on the energy of the other people in the room? If our children are hearing all our negative thoughts out loud, it is likely they will take on our negative attitude. I think it is safe to say we had better start working on our patterns of thinking! Our thoughts can determine our reality. So, as we continue to vacuum, dust, fold laundry, and do all those other mundane tasks, what do you choose as your reality? Are you going to let the frustrations of your day take over your thoughts and life? Or are you going to heed God’s Word and allow Him to transform your inward patterns of thinking as you take on the never-ending loop that is life.

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This post was written by Rachel Poborsky. She is the sister of Chrystal Stauffer and the author of “RaisingPobos.” You can find her over on Instagram or Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/raisingpobos/

3 Things I Use to Keep My Home Running Smoothly

Keeping a home clean, food on the table, activities coordinated and life somewhat structured is a bigger task than first meets the eye!

Today I want to talk through a few things I do to keep our home running (somewhat) smoothly!

Every day I use these three things:

1. Calendar planner

2. Simple lined notebook

3. 3-ring binder

How I use my planner

I highly recommend the planners that Hobby Lobby sells. They have the month-at-a-glance as well as each week laid out in a much bigger space for organizing all the nitty-gritty of your day.

The monthly page I use for keeping track of bigger events; church activities, company coming, meeting, etc. So when we need to schedule one of those kind of events I can glance at that page and know what days are already booked.

The weekly page I use to help me know where I am going each day and how to get there. 

I write everything on these pages–from my husband’s meetings to when I need to take meat out of the freezer.

 How I use my notebook

A huge part of keeping a home revolves around food. We need to eat 3 times a day, at least, and with kids that means several snacks thrown in there too.

Just a cheap lined notebook helps keep all things food planned and organized.  On one page is our weekly menu. I always know that I have enough food and what meal it is going towards for a whole week. 

On the other page is a constant, on-going shopping list. Whenever I see something almost gone I jot it down on the list. This eliminates so many “opps I forgot” trips to the store and ultimately saves money. 

How I use my binder

The third thing I use is a 3-ring binder. Here I keep recipes and also a master list of meals our family enjoys. This list is all divided out by meat types and what cookbook it is found in. This system makes meal planning and grocery list writing so much easier! 

These three books work hand in hand to help me stay organized and our home running sufficiently. Meals our family likes are organized in the 3-ring binder which I refer to as I make our weekly menu and shopping list in my lined notebook. I then make notes into my daily planner: what day I will make that shopping trip, when I need to start prep for certain meals, events and details of our week. 

I hope these ideas will help you as you seek to serve your family well! Caring for our families is a gift! 

Meatless Meal Ideas

Looking for ways to save a little extra money? Running out of time to thaw and cook meat before dinner time? Today, Rachel shares a compilation of favorite meatless meal ideas. Meat can be one of the most expensive parts to a grocery bill, so why not try and cut down costs a bit? If you challenge yourself to cooking one or two meals a week without using meat, you might just be surprised at how delicious and easy your menu planning can still be.

  • Black bean tacos
  • Cheese or bean quesadillas 
  • Potato bar with any left over veggies in your fridge or a can of beans
  • Quiche
  • Pancakes/waffles
  • Eggs and toast
  • Zucchini tacos
  • Egg salad sandwiches
  • Black bean and rice skillet
  • Black bean burgers
  • Omelets
  • Bean and cheese chimichangas
  • Baked oatmeal
  • Tomato soup
  • Veggie grilled cheese
  • Regular grilled cheese
  • Garden lasagna
  • Potato Au gratin
  • Frittatas
  • French toast
  • Meatless Taco salad
  • Bean burritos
  • Veggie chili
  • Shakshuka (an Israeli dish)
  • Falafel (Israeli dish)
  • Cream of mushroom soup
  • Ratatouille
  • Lentil spaghetti
  • Granola and yogurt with fruit
  • Hash-browns and eggs
  • Crepes
  • Potato or zucchini fritters
  • Oven roasted root veggies

Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense — A Book Review

Note: I read this book quite some time ago and was incredibly blessed by it. With the recent events going on in our world, we at Hearts Refreshed thought it would be an appropriate book to recommend to you. – Angie


Suffering: Gospel Hope when Life Doesn’t Make Sense by Paul David Tripp is an outstanding book that addresses many of the questions that pass through our minds as we walk through seasons of suffering: Why did God allow this to happen? How can God be good? What is the purpose for this suffering? Why me? Because Tripp himself has walked through a season of intense physical suffering, he is able to write with great empathy and compassion towards those who are suffering.

Although his personal experience with suffering does give an element of validity to the message of his book, Tripp does not allow it to be the primary focus of the book. Instead, while weaving in parts of how God has used suffering in his own life, Tripp seeks to give his ideal audience–those who have gone through or who are going through a season of suffering–what he calls a “street level” understanding of what Scripture has to say about suffering. He seeks to give his readers a practical understanding of Scriptural truths and the impact these truths have on how one deals with suffering.

In the first half of the book, Tripp uses these personal experiences to identify and discuss a number of traps that one tends to fall into, either while in the midst of suffering, or after having gone through it. As I read about the traps of awareness, fear, envy, doubt, denial, and discouragement, I repeatedly found myself thinking Yes! That is exactly how I felt as I was walking through the grief of our miscarriage! It was so comforting to know that the myriad of emotions that flooded my heart and mind were not unique to me.

However, Tripp does not leave his readers with simply a greater awareness of the various emotions they are experiencing. The second half of Suffering discusses specific aspects of the character of God and how each aspect gives unique comfort. With his down-to-earth and personal style, Tripp digs into Scripture to show how one can find comfort that is grounded in the unchanging truths of Scripture and God’s character.

Suffering seems to be specifically directed towards those whom God has called to walk through a form of suffering that just “doesn’t make sense,” as part the subtitle suggests. However, I believe anyone who reads this book will be incredibly encouraged by it, for we have all gone through one form of suffering or another.

As it acknowledges the reality of suffering and addresses many of the practical aspects of what one goes through during a period of suffering, the beauty of this book lies in how it points its readers towards finding lasting comfort through a growing understanding of the character and ways of God.

I highly recommend this book.

Oh Be Careful Little Tongue

For the past ten plus weeks, most of us have stuck pretty close to home, cooped up almost. Our intake of social media and the nightly news has been much more than normal, having a powerful impact on our hearts and minds. Our opinions about the Coronavirus situation are pretty solidified, whether it is anger, fear, sorrow, feelings of injustice or apathy. It’s hard not to let those opinions boil over into our conversations. We justify our position with those who are of the same opinion and maybe even avoid those who hold another. How easy it is to allow our conversations to overstep into gossip.

As our towns slowly open back up and we begin to interact with others on a face-to-face basis, we will need to keep ourselves in check.

An old child’s saying goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

How false that statement is.

Proverbs 18:21 says that words have the power of life and death.

Words are powerful.

The book of James talks about how a great ship being driven by fierce winds is turned about by a very small rudder. James contrasts how the tongue is a very small member of our body but it is full of iniquity and can set the world on fire. (See James 3:2-12)

Words hurt.

Some of the biggest scars in our lives are a result of words.

“The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” Proverbs 18:8

Words are destructive.

Proverbs 16:28 says gossip separates close friends.

A virus is tiny, unseeable even, but can cause great sickness and spread quickly. Our little tongues can speak gossip that causes great hurt and spreads farther than ever intended.

These past months have resulted in a lot of destruction for many of us; financially, emotionally, physically. We all need encouragement and we can do so for others with our words.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”

There are bound to be people in our churches, in our close circles of friends, or even in our family that have a different outlook on the past and present situation than we do.

While it is not wrong for us to have different opinions, we ought to have the attitude of Paul who said, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” 1 Corinthians 10:24

We have been separated physically for months and as we begin to gather together again, let’s be wise with our words and guard against creating a gulf of even greater separation.

Claim the prayer of the Psalmist who wrote, “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3

As we are learning how to best love our brothers and sisters during this time, let us begin with our smallest member, the tongue.