Emotions Recommendations

Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: Lightheartedness

Today’s helpful little hack of the hour is lightheartedness. At first blush, one might think this character trait would be dependent on circumstances. But I have found that it doesn’t have to be!

Definition of lighthearted

light·​heart·​ed | \ ˈlīt-ˌhär-təd  \

1: free from care, anxiety, or seriousness HAPPY-GO-LUCKY, a lighthearted mood

2: cheerfully optimistic and hopeful EASYGOING, they can be lighthearted in the midst of misery— H. J. Forman

As mentioned in definition #2 above, we can be lighthearted, even when things aren’t going our way. When you’re feeling down, smile! It might seem fake at first, but the face muscles inform your mind and can actually help you feel lighter.

A photo of sky and tress with a poem by Mama Lava that says "Laugh more, frown less. Whenever possible, say 'Yes!'"
Choose lightheartedness!

“Laugh more, frown less. Whenever possible, say yes!”

I wrote this little ditty to help me remember. And just to clarify – don’t say “Yes!” to an overwhelming number of commitments or things that would be wrong for you. This is phraseology. It means to frame things, even to yourself, in a positive light.

From restrictive to permissive

Instead of saying “No cookies”, say “Yes, I will enjoy a piece of fruit”. Replace “No more staying up late” with “Yes! I get to sleep”. It helps to shape the way you feel about things.

This little hack of the hour might take some practice, so why not start today? Smile and say yes! You might uncover a perspective that is more free and lighthearted.

“Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!”

Psalm 32:10

Wondering why am I publishing these helpful little hacks of the hour? Read the Introduction and Intent post here.

Devotions Emotions

Angry and Convinced Someone Should Die? Make It Quick!

When my blood starts to boil, and I feel myself getting really angry…

(I know you’ve been there too!)

It’s like fire raging from deep within, bursting out of control…


(Know the feeling?)

Someone needs to die!

(Yes, definitely!)

And that someone is me.

(Wait, what?)

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.’”

1 Peter 2:23, 24

To be clear, I am not advocating for suicide. This is not about physical death. But there are many natural instincts, with which I was born, that need to die. My need to be right, my desire for revenge, and the longing to have things “my way” are just a few.

Thankfully, I don’t have to do it alone. When I gave my life to Jesus, He gave me a Helper. The Holy Spirit convicts me of what needs to die in me and provides strength and motivation to put it down.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Galatians 5:24-26

“For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

Romans 8:13

Someone once pointed out to me that a dead (wo)man has no preferences. (S)he may have wanted certain things while (s)he was alive; enough to stand, strive and fight for them, even. But not anymore. Once (s)he dies, (s)he no longer has rights or desires, and therefore can not be imposed upon or offended.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

Colossians 3:2, 3

If I have truly died to myself, and Jesus is living in me, there should be no struggle for control. I shouldn’t be consumed with pursuits of things I used to want. I am no longer relevant. My life is His.

A tiny plant in a handful of soil
Photo by Akil Mazumder on
Just as a seed will die to live as something much greater, so must I.

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

Colossians 3:5-10

I committed my life to Christ many years ago. The Holy Spirit has been hard at work. But friends, I’m not there yet. My sinful flesh does not quiet quickly.

In the words of Paul, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12) And it sure is on my mind! By God’s grace, I hope to resemble Him more, and me less, every day.

When I feel provoked, angry, and convinced someone should die, I need to make it quick. I’m the one who needs to die. My sin, my fleshly desires, my arrogance, my rights – I need to lay them all down for the joy of the Lord.

“We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. 

Romans 6:2a, 6-8, 11, 13, 14

Living a Heart-Rock Life in a Proven Hard-Knock World

It’s the hard-knock life! I’m sure you’ve heard the sentiment, made famous by the popular Broadway musical “Annie”. It is relatable as it focuses on the difficulties of living.

Empty belly life

Rotten smelly life

Full of sorrow life

No tomorrow life

Excerpted from the lyrics of “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin

I went to the store last night and found the price of eggs has TRIPLED in the last couple of weeks. So much for inexpensive protein! Empty belly life? Not quite. But I briefly considered a chicken coop in my small space, which could make for a more rotten smelly life for sure!

Jokes aside, this world is full of tribulation, and it is easy to get focused on the hard knocks. But God.

“In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33b

Have you noticed the lens through which you look at life can be changed dramatically by a few hard knocks? I have! My optimistic nature which typically notices blessings and beauty can flip on its pessimistic head and suddenly the struggles loom larger than anything else.

I was out walking a few weeks back and I was burdened by some hard knocks. My fur-baby had died (you can read about that here) and it was lonely to be on a walk without him. I had also received some pressing news about a loved one which weighed on me. I’m sure you know the feeling.

I was in an area where my dog had loved to sniff around. My heart was heavy. My footsteps felt labored. My eyes were downcast.

God knew it and He met me there. We don’t have a God who says, “Eyes up! You know better. When you pull yourself together and look at me, I have something to show you.” No, He gets in our line of sight and attracts our focus to Himself. From there, He lifts our heads.

“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts up my head.”

Psalm 3:3

With my head hanging and my gaze downward, I saw this:

A grey heart-shaped rock on a bed of red gravel and pine needles.
Hard-knocks are real, but so are heart-rocks!

I’ve been on the lookout for hearts in creation. It began in January with Valentines from God. I started a photo challenge and boy, have I been feeling the love ever since!

On this day, Jesus reminded me that hard-knocks are real, yes, but so are heart-rocks. In other words, the struggle is great, but He is greater. I feel burdened but He is there, offering encouragement and aid.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

It’s the heart-rock life for us! We walk through the hard knocks with a Savior who loves us. He has promised perfection in Heaven and, if we have accepted it, He is personally escorting us there. He keeps us going; encouraging us when we’re down, giving us strength when we’re weary, and carrying us when we can’t muster another step.

Are your eyes open to the figurative, and maybe even literal, heart rocks our God places around you? He is Love. Any token of Himself to which He draws our attention should remind us of His affection toward us.

When we start to dwell too much on the hard knocks of this broken world, may we refocus on the heart rocks He offers along the way !

Will you be on the watch for hearts from God? When you see one in the clouds, shadows, trees, rocks, or anywhere, snap a quick photo and share it! Be sure to link back to the original Photo Challenge post so we can gather them all in one place.

Be blessed today, my friend. Time has proven there will always be hard-knocks in this world. What kinds of struggles are you facing? It would be my honor to pray for you.

Together, we can give our tribulations to the one who has over come them. Because of Jesus, it’s the heart-rock life for us! May His joy and peace be with you.


A Gift of Love from God’s Heart is Special Anytime!

Hello everyone! I hope you’re feeling loved today! Because, you know what? You are! Think about this for a minute…

Jesus, Creator of the whole universe, loves you so much that even if you were the only person on earth, He would have willingly died on the cross to make a way to spend eternity with you.

“He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed. For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

1 Peter 2:24, 25

I really believe that! I don’t understand it… but I believe it! I was telling my husband the other day that it makes no sense to me that God is so enamored with His human creation. We are ridiculous, are we not? And yet, we cannot even fathom the depth of His love for us!

“How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure”

Stuart Townend

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38, 39

At the end of January, I proposed a photo challenge related to Valentines from God. Click here to see that original post. Since then, I’ve been finding hearts in all kinds of places.

Let’s be honest, all of nature is a gift from our Creator. He didn’t have to make it so pleasing to our senses, but He did! It is spectacular in every way. But when it comes shaped like a heart, I can’t help but feel the love. Here’s one of my recent favorites:

A heart shaped tuft of grass
A little “Psst, I love you!” note from God as I walked past the medical office the other day.

It’s just a little tuft of grass, but God designed it, gave it life, made it grow, directed my eyes toward it, and touched my heart with it. I’m hoping He uses it to encourage you today too! Don’t think for a minute that God doesn’t care that much about grass or about you…

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you – you of little faith!”

Luke 12:27, 28

A gift of love from God’s heart is special anytime, right? Tokens of His affection feel good all year round. So, I decided to gather the hearts I’ve been finding and restart the photo challenge. Stay tuned for more!

In the meantime, don’t forget to keep your eyes open for tokens of affection that God has placed around you. Please share them! Tag this original post, Sunning Valentines from God Photo Challenge, when you do, so we can compile them all in one place. Awesome, thanks! I can’t wait to see what you find!


One Insider Tip for Handling Searing Dread

Dread. It’s one of those experiences which, once felt, lingers just under the surface for easy access. I’ll bet you sensed the shudders of it as you just read the word.

I can tell you, verbatim, the stories which have accompanied my encounters with searing dread. I had reason to share one of them with my son the other day, along with one insider tip I gained. A good thing about a strong emotional experience is that the accompanying lessons stay close for recall.

This story took place thirty years ago and yet my blood pressure still rises with every thought of it. Chances are, you’ve lived through a similar situation. Let me set the scene.

I was newly married and starting life with my handsome groom. We had one car between us. I needed employment, so my grand plan was to find one near where he worked and commute together.

I got dressed up and drove in with my husband one day. I had 8 hours, the duration of his shift, to visit the businesses near his job site and collect applications. I gathered several, planning to complete them that evening and return them the following day.

After a few hours, I had covered several large city blocks. I walked into a sandwich shop and asked if they were hiring. The man behind the register surprised me by motioning to a table and asking me to have a seat. He brought me an application and a pen. It felt nice to sit for a minute after walking such a distance in heels, so I completed the paperwork.

The words "If I'd only known then, what I know now..." against a blurred brick wall backdrop
Hindsight is 20/20

Just as I was finishing, the man – who turned out to be the owner – joined me at the table. He looked over my application and told me I was hired. He handed me an apron and started my orientation. I was so surprised and so completely taken off guard, that I just went with it.

Before I left, he handed me a schedule. My first full shift was to be the next day. I walked back to the car, just as my husband was getting off work. We felt celebratory! As far as we could tell, my day had been an unexpected success.

I worked a few days at the sandwich shop. I discovered that the manager enjoyed putting people ill at ease and watching their reactions. His move of hiring me on the spot and expecting me to complete orientation in my heels was part of that power play. He was pushy. He found entertainment in causing and reveling in the discomfort of others. I found it awful.

So when the proprietor of the cozy café just behind where my husband worked suddenly offered me a job, it took me less than 2 seconds to accept. But I had to quit the sandwich shop. Enter the searing dread.

dread /dred/ verb: great fear or apprehension.

I knew the owner would not make it easy on me. This was before the days of cell phones or email, so I had to face him. As expected, he displayed great satisfaction from throwing a fit and embarrassing me in front of everyone. I tried to give a 2-week written notice. He tore it up with flair.

His reaction confirmed for me that I’d made the right decision for myself. But I will never-ever forget the lump in my throat as I walked the longest few blocks in my life to go resign. The searing dread was real! I had to will my feet to move against what felt like a wall of bricks that got heavier with every step. Do you know the feeling?

I’ve shared that story several times because I’ve known others in similar dreadful positions. The most recent one was my son. He had a choice with his. He could ignore the difficult situation, not have the dreaded conversation, and just walk away. Or he could face it and put it to rest.

I told my story to my son and pointed out how well I remember it. I warned him that he’d probably always remember his too. I expressed to him what I believe is the key, the one insider tip I know for handling searing dread.

Situations of searing dread need to be handled with utmost integrity.

If the experience is going to stick with him, he needs to know that he handled it correctly. Wouldn’t it be awful to recall shame on top of dread?

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”

Psalm 34:4, 5

I will always feel badly about quitting a job so soon after being hired. I do not like to disappoint or inconvenience others. But I am grateful for a clear conscience about it before the Lord. The few stressful days I spent at the sandwich shop really made me appreciate the sweet café job He gave me instead.

Yes, I remember the searing dread. Boy do I! But I gained one insider tip about handling it with integrity, which has served me well over the years. Hopefully it will now benefit my son, and maybe you.

Can you relate to my story? Have you felt searing dread that you will never forget? How did you handle it? Do you have any insider tips to share from your experience?


5 Reliable Reasons to Rejoice Through Unexpected Tears

My dog died this morning. We were in the kitchen. When I bent to brush something off his face, he lay his head heavily in my hand and his legs gave way. I caught him and lowered him gently to the floor.

I got down on my belly, forehead to forehead with him. I petted him and spoke softly to him, reassuring him and telling him how much he was loved. I texted my son and husband to come quick, but I felt his last breath on my cheek before they got downstairs.

I am surprised how hard this hit me. Makali’i, aka “Maka”, just turned 12. Because of his breed, pug mixed with Japanese Chin, he’d already exceeded lifespan expectations. He was slowing down. I knew this was coming, yet is anyone ever really prepared?

As sad as today has been, I have found 5 reliable reasons to rejoice through the many – oh so many – unexpected tears.

1. God’s Timing

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die…”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a

God’s timing is a reason for me to rejoice through tears today. I am so thankful we were home when the end came for our pup. If it had happened yesterday, we would not have been. I was even in the same room when his strength gave out.

I am appreciative that it didn’t happen on Easter Sunday, when assistance resources may have been closed and when our family might have carried a twinge of our sorrow into future Resurrection celebrations. There is no time I would want my pet to die, but the inevitable was timely in God’s plan and is giving me joy through my tears.

Are you sad about anything today? The circumstances which cause your tears are likely different than mine. Still, God’s timing is perfect for you too. Have you noticed it?

2. God’s Provision

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19

If you read Part 2 of the Amazing News series, you know that the thing I disliked most about my new house was the back door. It is not compatible with a doggie door, so I had to walk Maka several times a day. Oh, what a fool I was!

That door was a precious provision from God! You know why? Because taking my dog out 4 times a day, meant over 100 walks together just since we moved here 26 (ish) days ago! I cherish the memories, the photos, and the quality time I got to spend with him while we got accustomed to this new habit.

Pug on a sunny sidewalk
Makali’i (means “Little Chief” in Hawaiian)
March 2010 – April 2022

This photo was taken on a walk yesterday. He always loved the sun and he appeared to be smiling as it shone down on him.

The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was take Maka outside. It was apparent that he was unwell, so my husband booked the first vet appointment he could find. It was for 10:30am, which was miraculous because most offices were booking weeks out.

Maka didn’t live long enough to keep his appointment, but when we called to cancel it, the receptionist had answers to all of our questions. She was God’s provision for us. She had the right words, she knew the next steps, and she gave us direction when we were lost in loss.

We rejoice through our tears because God provides what we need. He knows what is ahead and lays all the proper groundwork. This has been a recurring theme. If you need proof and encouragement regarding God’s provision, please read this true story and this one.

3. God’s Grace

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

I asked earlier if we’re ever really prepared for tragedy. I can say with certainty I wasn’t. I’ll bet you’d answer in kind. This verse in Hebrews tells us why. God gives us grace in our time of need. He doesn’t promise to make it available in advance. He comes through with what we need when we need it.

This is an unexpectedly tearful day. And yet I’ve been able to rejoice because of God’s grace. He has taken the load and directed my thoughts. This doesn’t bring my sweet puppy back, but it does soothe my heart. It gives me strength to focus on the gift I had instead of what I’ve lost.

‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’


“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:8, 9

If you are in need, God’s grace is sufficient. Open your hurting heart to Him. He makes it possible to rejoice through our tears.

4. God’s Comfort

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18

I would love to say that I crawled near to God in my grief today. I don’t think I’ve had the wherewithal. But He has pulled me close. I feel His comforting presence.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Matthew 5:4

All day, through reassuring my dying dog, reminiscing with my husband, and helping break the news to our kids one by one, I am being comforted by God. And as news spreads, friends who have been in these shoes are reaching out with knowing words of empathy.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

2 Corinthians 1:3, 4

The amazing thing about comfort is that we get to pay it forward. Our grief gives us first-hand understanding and enables us to encourage others through theirs. If you’re not ready to help someone else, that means you’re still in need of comfort yourself. Accept it from God and others. One day you’ll be able to give it back out.

5. God’s Understanding

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

I am relying heavily on God’s understanding. I lost a pet, but God the Father watched His Son die. And God the Son was described by the prophet Isaiah as a “Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief”.

My heart is not held by One who does not understand. My God created me, knows me, and understands me like no other. I’m so grateful to lean on Him today.

Do you feel like no one understands you? God does. My friend, I pray you allow yourself to be known by Him, especially when you’re sad.

A pug photo with text that reads "I'm grateful, blessed, and kind of a mess..."
I saw this phrase somewhere today and adopted it wholeheartedly!

No question about it, today is tough. I now expect my tears. But I have 5 reliable reasons to rejoice my way through them as I grieve.

If you are unsettled today, I hope you find encouragement in the goodness of God. He is ready to meet you where you are. Cry out to Him and He will answer!

To everyone who’s lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
When you said goodbye
And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there’s nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right
There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
And love for the broken heart
And there is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He’ll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus

Cry Out to Jesus (<– Click to listen)
Song by Third Day