While I’m always recommending journals I love, you guys seem to be big fans of Present Not Perfect. This is one of the first guided journals I ever used and I like to tear out the motivational posters inside and hang them up.
In addition to these goodies, here are some more stocking stuffer ideas for women that I love (and some recommended by my readers) you can shop for this Christmas.
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is a daily devotional referencing multiple verses to encourage you when suffering , or simply in day to day living.
*This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for details.
JESUS CALLING BY SARAH YOUNG
A few years ago, a man at our church with Parkinson’s mentioned how he was struggling with daily discouragement. He confessed there were days he couldn’t see how God could use this time in his life for good. It came at a moment during my own personal battle with Lyme disease and I was feeling helpless as well.
He referred to a book that helped him immensely when he was feeling lost called Jesus Calling, which basically is a daily devotional where the author takes a few verses in the Bible and turns them into a love letter from Jesus to you. While you have to understand the text isn’t straight from the Bible, it is using the Bible to create the context for the conversational paragraphs.
I’ve spent most of my life writing in a journal. One day I started addressing it informally to Jesus and ending in “Love, Amy” like my own conversational love letter. So when I discovered this devotional, it felt like it was a part of the conversations I was already having with Jesus.
When I began to look for other books by Sarah Young, I found out that she also struggled with Lyme Disease and wrote a follow up book called Jesus Today in response to the pain she went through! Isn’t it amazing how these things happen to us at the exact moments we need them?
JESUS CALLING FOR ALL AGES
I’m so thankful I ordered that book that day. I read through the entire thing that year and the next, making notes on what was going on in my life and revisiting them later praising God for all he had done.
I love buying this book for people going through something hard because it makes you feel like you are completely seen and heard by the God who loves you.
If you’re struggling, consider this my recommendation.
For my daughter, it was a sweet way for me to share words of blessings over her using verses from the Bible. For my son, it was a great way to practice the habit of daily Bible study in a simple way that he could relate to the struggles in his own life. We have finished our Jesus Calling devotionals, but now it’s the perfect segway into our next studies!
I hope you and your family are encouraged by these daily devotionals!
The book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality reflects so much of what I believe about the correlation between our mental and spiritual health.
*This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclaimer for details.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL MATURITY?
We’ ve all found ourselves in the uncomfortable situation at one time or another where we realize we are playing a part.
Author and pastor, Peter Scazzero found himself in this same predicament, preaching at church about living as a Christian, while his marriage and temper where falling apart. When he began to recognize his need for emotional maturity, he was able to address it and pursue deeper spiritual growth.
Scazzero outlines 10 areas where we as Christians can be lacking in emotional maturity which in turns affect our spiritual maturity. I found myself relating to more than I was comfortable with, but it challenged me to set some spiritual goals for myself. This book was also my motivation to get counseling to allow for accountability in my spiritual growth.
10 SYMPTOMS OF EMOTIONALLY UNHEALTHY SPIRITUALITY
I felt that the message of his ministry is so in line with mine here at Intentional Living, where I focus on the importance of setting the ground work of spiritual growth through addressing all the other areas of your life:
Taking care of yourself so that you can grow in awareness of what you need to move forward (Self Care)
Discovering your gifts and God-given talents so that you can find meaning in your day to day (Goal Setting)
To better understand where it is we need to grow, here are 10 areas he gave to explain what it means to be emotionally unhealthy in our spirituality. How many of these can you relate to?
1. Using God to run from God
Here are Scazzero’s examples on what this means:
Do God’s work to satisfy me, not him
Do things in God’s name he never asked me to do
Pray about God doing my will, not about me surrendering to his will
Demonstrate “Christian behaviors” so significant people think well of me
Focus on certain theological points out of concern for my fears and unresolved emotional issues rather than out of out concern for God’s truth
Use biblical truth to judge and devalue others
Exaggerate my accomplishments for God to subtly compete with others
Make pronouncements like, “The Lord told me I should do this,” when the truth is, “I think the Lord told me to do this”
Use Scripture to justify the sinful parts of my family relationships, cultural values, and national policies, instead of evaluating them under God’s lordship
Hide behind God talk, deflecting the spotlight from my inner cracks, and become defensive about my failures
Apply biblical truths selectively to avoid anything that would require making significant life changes
2. Ignoring anger, sadness and fear
Many Christians don’t believe they have permission to admit or express their feelings, especially when it comes to fear, sadness, shame, anger, hurt and pain. But how can we listen to what God is saying when we cut ourselves off from our own emotions?
3. Dying to the wrong things
While we are called to die to our sinful nature (arrogance, hypocrisy, judging others), we aren’t called to die to the healthy desires and pleasures of life (friendships, joy, art, music, beauty, recreation, laughter, nature). Our lives as Christians shouldn’t look miserable, we have been given gifts and creativity and joy from our creator!
4. Denying the impact of the past on the present
Our views on almost everything have been shaped by our upbringing and past experiences. We need to look at the ways we relate to one another and evaluate whether they reflect our family’s morals or God’s.
5. Dividing life into “secular” and “sacred” compartments
This is the struggle many Christian have, where you act one way at church and another the rest of the week. We are called to look different from the rest of the world, not be indistinguishable from one another.
Statistics show that Christians marriage end in divorce as much as non-Christian marriages. This also flows over into other areas like domestic violence, materialism and racism.
6. Doing for God instead of being with God
Here are a few false beliefs Christians struggle with:
Doing lots of work for God is a sure sign of a growing spirituality.
It is all up to you. And you’ll never finish while you’re alive on earth.
God can’t move unless you pray.
You are responsible to share Christ around you at all times or people will go to hell.
Things will fall apart if you don’t persevere and hold things together.
7. Spiritualizing away conflict
Jesus’ life was filled with conflict! He showed us that healthy Christians don’t need to avoid it. However, few people were raised in families where conflicts were resolved in a mature, healthy way. Here are a few of Scazzero’s examples of unhealthy ways to deal with conflict:
Say one thing to people’s faces and then another behind their backs
Make promises we have no intention of keeping
Give people the silent treatment
Give in because we are afraid of not being liked
“Leak” our anger by sending an email containing a not-so-subtle criticism
Tell only half the truth because we can’t bear to hurt a friend’s feelings
Say yes when we mean no
Avoid and withdraw and cut off
Find an outside person with whom we can share in order to ease our anxiety
8. Covering over brokenness, weakness and failure
No one is perfect—even those who seem to have it all together! The Bible is filled with examples of people trusting and following the Lord that were also broken, deeply flawed people. Everyone, regardless of their gifts, is weak, vulnerable and dependent on God.
9. Living without limits
A lot of Christians carry guilt for not doing enough, which leads to discouragement. Unfortunately, many times this results in disengagement and isolation from “needy people” because they don’t know what to do.
Even Jesus didn’t heal every single person in Palestine, yet we feel like we’re failing if we don’t “do it all”. This also spills over into our need for self care.
Do you feel that taking care of yourself equals not caring about others? Of course not! What good are we to others if we can’t even take care of ourselves?
10. Judging other people’s spiritual journey
When we are so caught up with pointing out other people’s faults, we have no time to notice our own. This is the basis for the “us vs them” mentality and what divides so many of us. Jesus tells us to first take the plank out of our own eye before pointing out the speck in someone else’s.
SO NOW WHAT?
Ok so if you’re like me, you’ve recognized yourself all over those 10 unhealthy habits. So how do we grow and correct these behaviors?
Scazzero outlines six stages of faith that we go through, and points out that if we find we haven’t grown much since becoming an adult after growing up in the church our whole lives, we may still be in the infant stages!
The first step he did to improve was to put time for quiet and solitude in his schedule.
“We need to be alone so that we can listen. My journey into emotionally healthy spirituality began very simply. Each day, as part of my devotions with God, I would allow myself to feel emotion before God. Then I would journal. Over time I began to discern patterns and God’s movements in a new way in my life.”
The second thing he did was to slow down the pace of his life.
He went from a 6 day, 70 hour work-week to a 5 day, 45 hour schedule. While this may seem impossible to you, make it a priority to look over what you have on your schedule and see where you can slow down.
“Silence and solitude are so foundational to emotionally healthy spirituality that they are a repeated theme throughout this book. We observe this from Moses to David to Jesus to all the great men and women of faith who have gone before us.”
He also sought out trusted advisors—counselors, mentors, spiritual directors, mature friends.
You may feel like you have no one in your life you could go to for advice. Counselors are a great way to do this, or seeking out leaders in your church for mentoring. Make a list of people you admire and reach out to them for coffee or something this week. Pray for guidance from God in this area as well.
ORDER YOUR COPY OF EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY SPIRITUALITY
There’s so much in this book that I haven’t included, such as:
Six Stages of Faith and Assessing Where You Are
Four Areas to Help You Grow and How to Monitor Growth
Healthy Ways to Cope with Pain
Creating a Daily Rhythm and Observing the Sabbath
Recognizing the Impact of Your Upbringing on Your Views
I know you will be blessed to learn more about yourself and how to become healthier emotionally and spiritually when you read this bestselling book. Order your copy here.