12 Ways Not to Lose Hope

Are you going through a transition?  Does life seem uncertain?  Are you unsure of what the future holds?

Whether you are battling a disease, working through a divorce, searching for a new job or dealing with other life struggles in this chapter of your life, don’t give up hope.

Here are 12 ways to keep hope alive:

  1. Read your Bible—this is the best place to start.  There are plenty examples of individuals that have struggled and been blessed by God.    read Bible
  2. Keep a hope journal—write in your journal every day, sharing your heart and feelings.  This is a journal just between you and God.
  3. List of gratitude’s—make a list of things to be thankful for each morning.  I like to list at least three things, but you can list any number you want.
  4. Art journaling—this is simply drawing your feelings and heart.
  5. Uplifting Music—listen to music that lifts your spirit.  While you listen you can sing along or even dance to it.
  6. Inspirational Movies—find an inspirational movie that relates to your circumstances or just lifts your spirit and makes you feel good.
  7. Place your name in the Bible Verse—when you read a verse put your name in that verse.  For example: “cast not your movie realburdens upon the Lord.”  I would say, “Leagh, cast not your burdens upon the Lord.”
  8. Cast Your Cares Away—write your burden out and then burn it.  As the ashes burn, lift that burden and prayer up to God and allow Him to lift it from your shoulders.
  9. Say Goodbye to the past—if your house burned down go back to that site and say goodbye.  If you hurt someone, meet with them and apologize.  If it is impossible to meet in person then write that person a letter.  Even if you never send it, you’ve released those feelings and said goodbye.
  10. Speak with someone else that has overcome that situation—find someone else that has overcome the same situation and share your stories with one another.  Just knowing that someone else has been there and understand helps.   help homeless
  11. Help the less fortunate—often doing something for someone else is the best medicine.  You get your mind off of yourself and onto others.  Doing this provides you with a new perspective of how much worse your own situation could be.
  12. Life Coaching—this is a great tool that will allow you to set goals and keep you accountable as you move forward.

How do you keep hope alive?  What struggles have you overcome?


hope quote

Discovering My Life Purpose

Have you ever wondered what your life purpose is?  Did you know that God made each of us for a purpose?  We were made in God’s own image and with a purpose.

Only recently have I begun to question and seek what my purpose is.  Seeking these answers has made me wonder how my life would be different, if I’d known this years ago.

Did you know that God has a purpose for each and every life?  Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”    life purpose questions

So how do you determine God’s purpose for your life?

Let’s begin by defining life purpose.  Your life purpose is a declaration of your passions, gifts, and talents that intentionally provide life direction and is driven by the Holy Spirit.

When determining your life purpose, ask yourself these five questions:

  1. Does it honor God?
  2. Does it reflect my passions, talents, skills and spiritual gifts?
  3. Does it apply to all seasons of my life, not just my current chapter?
  4. Does it give me a specific direction for life, but remain flexible to allow God to lead?
  5. Can it be easily reduced to one short phrase?

When determining your life purpose, seek God’s wisdom and guidance through His prayer and Bible Study.

What is your life purpose?

purpose of life

10 Lessons I’ve Learned from the Wait

Previously we discussed waiting for things to happen.  Waiting is never easy, especially when that season is prolonged for years.  I want to share a few lessons that I’ve learned while waiting.

  1. God will always provide and in the process I’m drawing closer to Him    praying through the wait
  2. God is preparing me for the future
  3. I am learning how to be patient {not easy}
  4. I am learning to have faith
  5. I can use this time to prepare my mind, heart and skill set for what’s to come
  6. He has a reason to keep me waiting
  7. His timing is perfect and His timing isn’t our timing
  8. He has a reason for keeping me where I am {often this is to help someone else}
  9. I am growing and changing as a person
  10. I may not be the only one God is working on

What lessons have you learned while waiting on God?

in the wait

In the Wait

Have you ever wondered what’s next?  When am I going to reach this goal?

I have!  For years, I’ve asked God about various aspects of my life.  Some I have waited for patiently and others, well I’ve shown God my attitude.  Needless to say I’ve been impatient and even angry at times. God wants us to be truthful with Him and tell Him how we feel.               waiting on God

We are told in Ecclesiastes “For everything there is a season.”  Still I wonder when that season will come.  Why have I been in the desert so long?  When will God show me the direction and answers I’ve been waiting for?

Waiting is not easy.  I understand why the Israelites grew frustrated after 40 years in the desert.  I often wonder how Joseph endured while he was in prison those seven years.

waiting       Still I know that the answer comes down to one answer, with God’s help I will wait.  That’s the same way that I’ve made it through.  It’s not been easy, but I have to trust that He knows best.  As my pastor says, He sees the upper story when I only see the lower story.

That doesn’t make it any easier, but I’ll trust that He knows what’s best.  So while I wait, I’ll continue to lean on Him.

Understanding Your Plate

When I was growing up, we had the pyramid to explain the basics of how we should eat.  This was what was taught in the schools and while very straight forward, was confusing to many people.

Last year the White House introduced a replacement to the pyramid.  This is called the food plate, which shows what your plate should look like at each meal.  In many ways it is much simpler and easier to understand than the pyramid.     food pyramid

Let’s take a look at the food plate for better understanding:

Protein—these are your meats and should not be larger than the palm of your hand.  Research has shown that meats such as fish and chicken are healthier than red and processed meat {hamburgers, hot dogs, steak, etc}.   Red meats and processed meats should be limited to once or twice a week, while you enjoy fish and chicken the rest of the week.

Whole grains—these are your carbohydrates and should cover a fourth of your plate. Whole grains are gentler on your blood sugar and insulin than the refined grains we normally eat.   Some examples of whole grains are whole wheat, brown rice, barley, whole wheat pasta, etc.

Vegetables—almost half of your plate should be filled with some sort of vegetable.  These are low in calories but very filling.  Vegetables are rich in color and nutrients.  A few vegetable suggestions would be green beans, carrots, squash, peppers, etc.

the food plate         Fruits—fruits should make up half of the plate with your vegetables.  Between your fruits and vegetables you would have a very colorful plate.  Many fruits are naturally sweet and cut that craving for something sweet. A few fruit suggestions are banana, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, apple, grapes and oranges.

Drink—water is the best drink in the world.  Standard guidelines recommend eight glasses of water per day, but some people need more.  An occasional cup of coffee and tea are also healthy and beneficial.  Skip the sugary drinks found in soft drinks and sports drinks, while limiting juice, milk and other dairy products to no more than a serving or two a day.

Of course, no action plan is complete without a good exercise plan.   I encourage you to try and exercise at least thirty minutes each day.

Does your plate look this balanced?  Where can you make changes to your plate?

10 Benefits of Exercise

When I was much younger I loved to walk.  Regardless of the weather, I walked four miles a day.  Then life got in the way, I put on weight and got terribly out of shape. I realized that I had to do something about my additional weight.  The best place to begin was with exercise.

Exercise is not my favorite thing to do but each day I make the choice to exercise or not.  There are a number of benefits of exercise.  Some of these are:

  1. I have more energy after I exercise and get more accomplished that day.
  2. I am in a better mood when I exercise.                                brain health
  3. I am able to release stress in my life when I exercise.
  4. Exercise is good for my heart.
  5. I begin to see changes in my body when I exercise on a regular basis.
  6. I feel better about myself when I exercise.
  7. I keep my blood pressure down when I exercise on a regular basis.
  8. Exercise is a great way to start my day.
  9. Exercise can be something that I enjoy doing {such as walking, swimming, etc.} and not drudgery.
  10. Each day I discover that I’m able to do a little bit more than the day before.

These are just a few of the benefits I have discovered from exercising on a regular basis.  Do you exercise regularly?   What types of exercise do you enjoy?

benefits of exercise


How to Pay off Debt

I hate being in debt!  I feel that debt is a noose around my neck.  For years I have been struggling to pay off a student loan.  This has been a struggle and I will be so relieved to finally get this debt paid off.   debt

Dave Ramsey refers to paying off debt as the snowball effect.  He suggests that you tally up all of your bills and credit card statements.  You have to be completely honest with yourself and your partner in doing this.  You cannot keep credit card statements hidden from one another.

Now that you have that stack of statements in front of you, make a list of who you owe money to and how much you owe.

debt bondage        Next you are going to put this list in order from lowest to highest.

Create a budget with your essential bills and determine how much you have each month to pay off your credit cards.

At first this will seem overwhelming because you have so many bills.  Let’s say that your lowest bill is $200 to a department store.  After paying your minimum on all of your cards, use the excess to pay off this $200.  The next month you will put that extra money on the $500 gas card you have.  In two months this bill will be paid off and then you will put the excess money on the $1000 gold card you have.

                By slowly paying off one card after another with the money you are saving, you will quickly discover that you will soon be out of debt.  You are snowballing the money towards those higher cards, which is why Dave Ramsey refers to this as the snowball effect.  snowball money

                You mean I have to do this for two years?  With determination and dedication, we do this for however long it takes.  I’m want to get this done immediately and have to remind myself that I did not get into this mess overnight and will not get out of it overnight.  With dedication and perseverance we will reach our goals.

What are you looking forward to paying off?

Track Your Spending Habits

Have you ever wondered where all of your money goes?  Why don’t you have enough money to pay a certain bill?  Is money tight and the end of the month is a stretch?

One of the best ways to determine where you money is going is by tracking your spending habits.  This is a technique that I have to turn back to time and time again to keep myself in check.

I like to do mine for a month at a time, but you could also do this for one week at a time.     expenses

First I choose a notebook to record everything I purchase for that month.  {You can also do this in Excel or on your iPhone}.  I record all of my transactions, whether cash, debit card or credit card.  In my register I record who the transaction was to, the date, the amount, the type of payment {cash, debit, or credit} and what the transaction was for.

At the end of that period I go through and tally up my expenditures for that month.   I look at how much I spent on food, gas, utilities, rent and other expenses.

Next I access the necessity of these expenditures.  Am I eating out too much?  How much did I spend on a latte out?  Did I really need that item?   Could this transaction have waited?

Follow the Money
Follow the Money

These are all questions that I ask myself, as I comb through my expenses.  By tracking these expenditures, I am able to be honest with myself about my finances and how I’m really doing.  I can also find the fat in my expenses and trim that away in order to save money each month.

Sometimes life gets in the way and I am not able to track my expenditures on a monthly basis.  By making a plan to do this on a quarterly or semi-annual basis, I am able to continue to monitor myself and see the areas in which I’ve grown and the areas that still need some work.

Would you commit to tracking your expenses for the next month?

10 Different Ways to Pray

Prayer often scares people.  They feel that they have to use lofty words and long sentences.  This is not true.  God wants us to talk with him the way we would talk to a friend.  We are all unique and created in God’s own image.  What works for one person may not work for another.  I decided to list ten ways in which we can lift our hearts up in prayer to God.

  1. Short prayers throughout the day—often instead of one big long prayer; God would like short prayers from us throughout the day.  He wants to be with us always, not just at a certain appointed time and then we forget Him the rest of the day.  Ask for God to be with or help people that you see or come to mind throughout the day.    art journaling
  2. Journaling—writing out our feelings to God is a great way to share our heart with Him.  Often I have trouble verbalizing my heart to Him, but once I begin to write it out, my feelings pour forth.   These are for His eyes only.
  3. Art Journaling—I was recently introduced to this technique and loved it.  You could put on some praise music or do this in silence.  Draw your feelings or the people on your heart {God even accepts my stick figures} and use this time to just worship Him and share your heart.  Your pictures can be as simple or intricate as you choose, He knows your heart.
  4. Music—I love to sing.  I find that just crying out to God in song or praising His name; can lift both my heart and my mood.   God wants us to praise Him, as well as tell Him how we feel.  He loves music and King David praised Him through the use of music.
  5. Dance—speaking of King David, he also danced for the Lord.  If you enjoy dancing, this is another way of expressing yourself before God.      Dance
  6. Walking—I love to talk with God while I walk.  Even if others are around, it’s just the two of us together in the spirit.  I’m working my body and worshiping with Him at the same time.
  7. Getting out in nature—nature is full of the reminder of God’s goodness and love for us.  All around is the beauty of the things that He made with His own hands.  Whether you are on the top of the mountain or sitting by the river’s edge, you can spend time worshiping with Him.
  8. Tears—tears cleanse the soul.   We’re even told that “Jesus Wept”.  Sometimes we just need to have a good cry and let it all out.
  9. Own our Bible—at a conference I met a wonderful lady who is such a prayer warrior.  I often saw her own her knees in prayer throughout the day.  However, on a couple of occasions I saw her pray in a way that I had never thought of before.  She had her Bible open to a passage that spoke to her and was laid out across the Bible with her arms stretched out.  I quickly passed by not wanting to interrupt her time of worship.  However that sight has stayed with me.
  10. Joyful exclamations—we can also joyful exclaim God’s name and promises and at the same time to tell the devil to go back to whence he came.  What better way to worship then to lift God up and proclaim His name?

Have you thought of praying in any of these ways?  Would you be willing to try one new area of prayer this week?  Are there other ways in which you pray?  What are they?

worship in nature

Writing a Gratitude Journal

I’ve struggled at times with being grateful for things in my life.  This has been especially true when things were not going my way.  I had a friend suggest that I start a gratitude journal.  Each morning I would list three things for which I am grateful.  I decided that I would not list anything on my list more than once a month.   greatful

I discovered that the more I wrote in my gratitude journal the better my outlook and attitude became.  I’m more grateful for the small things around me.   When my outlook begins to look bleak, I’ll ask myself if I wrote in my gratitude journal that morning.  Often I’ll discover that I did not and will take the time to sit down and write in my journal.

I’ve also discovered that I will write in anticipation of something for that day.  Regardless of the outcome of that event, my attitude is much more positive.

Have you ever thought about keeping a gratitude journal?  What positive insights did you find?


10 Ways Creativity Can Reduce Stress

I’ve discovered that when I work on my craft, I notice my stress level go down.   After some probing, I want to share the reasons that I came up with.

  1. We allow our minds to focus on something else then our current troubles.
  2. We are doing something that we enjoy.                pottery
  3. We are doing something that relaxes us.
  4. We are doing something that feels productive.
  5. We are creating something that expresses our hearts and feelings.
  6. We are using our craft as a way to vent or work through our thoughts and emotions.
  7. We are allowing ourselves the freedom to be who we are.
  8. We use our art as a form of meditation or worship.
  9. We have the freedom to mold our craft any way we desire.  We can add to, take away or start over.
  10. We can lift others up with the use of our craft.

In what ways do you use your craft to reduce stress?


10 Ways to Carve Out Time to Practice Your Craft

I find it very easy to procrastinate and allow everything else use up my time.  I then become frustrated because I’d planned that time for my craft and never got around to it.   I decided to come up with ten ways to help me carve out time for my craft and stop the procrastination.

  1. Turn the TV off—sometimes we just have to shut out the distractions in our life.  The TV is a big distraction and we have to recognize that we just need to shut it off and do the work.
  2. Carve out a space for my craft—this has been a struggle for me at times to find a good place to work.  Often I’ve had to make do with what was available, but wherever works for you and you are most comfortable set up your own space.  creative space
  3. Recognize when I am at my best—we all have a time of day when we are at our best.  That could be first thing in the morning, mid-day or late at night.  If you’re not sure, pay attention to your body and mindset or experiment with various times to find out when you are most creative.
  4. Exercise always helps—I’ve discovered that after exercising that not only do I feel better but I am also more focused and creative.
  5. Make my craft my first priority of the day—often I find that I feel I have accomplished more for the day when I dedicate time first thing in the morning to my craft.
  6. Recognize when I need a break—I discover that once started it’s easy to work through to the point of exhaustion.  Sometimes I just need to take a break for 10-30 minutes.  By stepping away and returning to my craft I am refreshed and have a new take on things.    exercise
  7. Recognize what inspires me—I’ve discovered that there are some things that inspire me.  When I can be around these items or people, I am much more creative.
  8. Collaborate with others—often we just need someone with the same interest to bounce ideas with or offer critiques of our work.   This should be a time of lifting one another up and offering constructive advice.
  9. Get away—there are times when I just need to get away from everything and the day to day distractions.  I then have the ability to dedicate to my craft and make a huge dent in the project or wrap it up.
  10. Just do it—often it’s so easy to put things off and continuously procrastinate.  There are times when I just have to say, “just sit down and do it.” Once I get started I discover that I’m in the rhythm of my craft.

What are some ways that you carve out time to practice your craft?

10 Activities to Engage an Alzheimer’s Patient

Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease that slowly steals our loved one away from us.  By the time the disease has run its course, our loved one can become completely incapacitated.  By engaging the patient and allowing them to participate in activities, we are attempting offsetting the movement of this disease.

When endeavoring to engage the patient in these activities, make sure that the exercise is within the capability of the patient.  You want this to be something that is as fail proof as possible.


  1. Music—music is very therapeutic for most people.  Choose music your loved one enjoys and can relate to.   This may be a specific style or specific songs that have a special meaning.   While the patient is listening to the music you could introduce movement activities such as dance, play instruments, sing or exercise.  {Depending on the patient’s capability}.
  2. Puzzle—puzzles are a great way to keep the mind engaged.   Depending on the capability of the patient will depend on the complexity of a puzzle.  Just remember that even a simple child’s puzzle is a great activity.
  3. Pictures and Memory Books—using pictures of special places, events and people in the patient’s life is a great way to help the patient to remember and connect.  You never know what memories may surface.          Memories
  4. Reading—reading is a great way to engage the patient.  If the patient is willing to read to you, this is a wonderful outlet for them.   However, don’t forget that you could also read out loud to the patient.  Stop and ask questions throughout the story make sure they understand the storyline.
  5. Crossword Puzzles—Crossword puzzles, Sudoku and other similar games are a great activity to engage the patient.  Allow them to do as much as possible and gently prod when and as necessary.
  6. Old Hobbies—did your loved one enjoy knitting, crafting, cooking, singing, gardening or another hobby?  Incorporating these activities into the patient’s day is a great way to keep them active.  Depending on their capability you may have to make adjustments to meet their current needs.  {Ex. Bring in a pot and allow your loved one to plant into the pot.}                    knitting
  7. Draw or coloring books—drawing or coloring in coloring books are great utilities to keep the patient active and engaged.  You can discuss what they are drawing or coloring and relate it to various memories.
  8. Play ball—using a balloon or soft ball you can toss the object back and forth.  Maybe with each pass of the ball ask a question {ex. What is your favorite hobby, what is your favorite color, etc.}
  9. Shuffle a prayer or poem—write out a prayer {ex. Lord’s Prayer}, favorite scripture or poem and print it out in large type.  Then cut this into pieces {ex. Our Father; who art in heaven; etc}.  Have your loved one put the verse back together.
  10. Pets—pets are very therapeutic for many people.  Spending time and playing with a family or neighbor dog is a great activity.  Remember to take into consideration how the patient reacts to animals and/or any allergies.   pets

When introducing an activity, decide the best time of day for the patient.  When is your loved one at his/her best or have the most energy?  In closing, I want to encourage you not to grow discouraged.  If one activity doesn’t work, another may.  The best way to know what is a success is through trial and error.

What activity works best with your loved one?

10 Ways to Deal with Caregiver Burnout

Caregiving is a tough job.   Depending on the need of the individual, you have little time to yourself.  Your primary goal and focus is on the care of your loved one.   During this time it is very easy to suffer from burnout.   You are giving so much of yourself to others that you have little time for yourself.

Part of being a good caregiver, is also taking care of yourself.  You need time to refresh your own batteries, so that you can offer your best to your loved one.

Ten ways to care for yourself are:

  1. Go to the movies—this gives you time to just relax and allow your mind and body to rest as you escape through the characters in the story.         movie theatre
  2. Get a Mani/Pedi—take time to spoil yourself and get a mani/pedi.  This is an activity that doesn’t take a lot of time but allows you to relax and pamper yourself.
  3. Go out with friends—we all need time with other people.   Sometimes you just need someone that you can have a conversation with {regardless of the subject}.
  4. Go for a walk—this activity cost nothing and exercise is good for your heart and mindset.  You can use this time to enjoy the silence, listen to music or pray.  This is a great way to work off additional energy, frustrations and/or anger.   Exercise is also a great mood booster if you discover that you are becoming depressed.
  5. Read a book—pick up your latest author’s newest novel and delve into the story.   This is a great way to recharge your batteries when it’s difficult to leave the patient.  You can go into another room or outside to enjoy your book.   reading
  6. Take time to play—whether you have a pet or enjoy a good round of golf, take time to endeavor yourself in your favorite activity.  You will be surprised at what thirty minutes of play a day will do for your mindset.
  7. Laugh—laughter is a great way to reduce stress.  Find something that makes you laugh, whether it’s your favorite sitcom, a YouTube video, or the antics of your grandchildren.
  8. Enjoy your favorite craft—whether you enjoy knitting, embroidery, crafts, or another outlet working on your favorite craft is a great way to recharge your batteries.  Decide what craft you enjoy most, choose a project and dedicate thirty minutes each day to this endeavor.
  9. Go for a massage—this is a great way to relax and loosen your tight muscles.                  massage
  10. Garden—moving your fingers through the earth and working with the beauty of nature and flowers is a refreshing activity that many enjoy.  You have the opportunity to take in the beauty around you and allow your mind to wonder.

These are just ten suggestions of things you can do to care for yourself and refresh your batteries.  Remember, when we care for ourselves we are in much better shape to care for our loved one.

How do you refresh your batteries?