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Feed Your Soul

When I stop feeding my soul, I suffer and everyone else around me suffers too.

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I lost my voice. My written voice, that is.

In the chaos two small children bring. In the day-in, day-out supporting of a husband getting a degree and working. While managing a home, it went missing. While shopping and cooking and washing endless dishes.

In the awesome existence of being a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, I forgot I had a “voice.” I forgot what it sounded like coming through my pen. I stopped using it, and now struggled to find it again.

Frantically, I was scanning shelves in our new house, shoving aside boxes, shuffling through drawers, trying to find just a single piece of lined paper on which to write. “Where are all my notebooks?” I yelled at myself.

Let me start over.

I used to carry little notebooks with me. I was always ready to record fleeting thoughts, snippets of conversation, and prayers throughout my day. The act of scrawling a pen across a paper allowed me to reflect on everything from the lady acting oddly in the coffee shop to whether I could actually marry the guy I was dating (I did!). None of it was terribly profound, and my attempts at poetry were just plain sad, but it was mine.

I turned to blogging for a while and even recorded the birth of my daughter. Everything from the joy to the difficulties we experienced. I still reread that post. It still makes me smile. I wrote about my dog. I wrote about faith. I wrote about writing.

Then life got busier. I stopped using my voice to write and forgot even what it sounded like. I lost my voice. The loss hurt my soul.

It is too easy to lose myself in the incredibly beautiful but exhausting role of being wife and mom and taking care of everyone else. But then I find myself impatient; yelling and frustrated.

My desire is to be patient and loving, the very opposite of what happens when I let my soul go hungry. When I stop feeding my soul — doing the things that energize and restore me — I suffer and everyone else around me suffers too. My kids get a cranky mommy who yells too much over little things and my husband gets a wife with a self–righteous, martyr complex (is that even a thing?). Ironically, he encourages me to write. And then I look at him like he is crazy, because, “Have you seen the dishes and laundry around here? And our son is about to wake up to eat, again! I don’t have time!”

Last night, however, it suddenly hit me that Jesus took the time. He left the crowds. He went to be alone. While I do a great job raising kids and cooking, I have never raised the dead or healed sick people, unless we are counting homemade chicken soup. So, if Jesus, who probably felt the urgency of His work here on earth, decided that stopping for a few minutes was important, then I probably should too. Do I honestly think I have something on Jesus? That my work is more important than His? Not so much.

Writing allows me space to reflect, to be alone. It often sends me to my Bible. Sometimes it reminds me of things I desperately want to remember. Small moments that might otherwise be lost. Sometimes it also sends me to a thesaurus for new words, or to grammar checks because, semi-colons, what? Engaging in writing, my creative outlet, stops me from being consumed by busyness. I am able to see the truly important through the demanding. I am quicker to notice my daughter making her brother belly laugh by “beeping” his nose over and over.

“Write this moment down,” I tell myself. “Capture it to savor later.”

God designed me this way. He knew I needed to write for my sanity and my soul.

The harder you work, the more you must play. I heard this once. Doesn’t it ring so true? The harder you work, the more you must play so as not to get burned out by even the most enjoyable work.

Go run or write or have a dance party in the kitchen while your baby looks at you like you have lost it.

Do the things the feed your soul and energize you for the work ahead.

Don’t neglect time to “play” as I neglected my writing for a time.

Even if it’s just for you, that is enough! More than enough, because God made you for these things along with the work He has put before you.

I am off in search of a notebook!

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Rachel Broderick has most recently found herself living in Northern Virginia with her husband, two kids, and dogs and loving it. She adores her family, coffee, and God, but not necessarily in that order. She is still not sure what she wants to be when she "grows up," but thinks being a wife to her hard-working husband and mom to active toddlers are pretty great jobs. She is passionate about encouraging those she meets and is just plain curious about other people. She has recently gotten back into writing in her non-existent spare time and her blog is a work in progress (just like she is) so stay tuned!

1 Comment
  • Brandi

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been praying today and searching and came across this. I’d like to share my facebook post here because your post truly spoke to me about making time to do what lifts me up!

    Why do my knuckles freeze up the minute I sit in front of the keyboard ready to punch out letters, to string words, to share stories of my heart with others, even those closest to me? Fear has a way of pelting down hard, stinging my skin, and holding me back from my true desires to share words with the hearts of others that may, in some small way, help them to see the beauty in the ugly and rejoice in the mundane. I’m struggling friends. I have words inside of me, but I keep them quiet, afraid my message will somehow get lost once it hits open air. Part of me struggles to even know what my message is. Start a blog – maybe? A writing ministry – maybe? But isn’t my calling to mother my lovelies and disciple them and didn’t we just decide to homeschool; and isn’t the hubs away at work all the time already so when does that leave time for this tired mama to find the steam to reload and speak into the hearts of others when my own heart runs dry lots of days? Share my heart and it lays open wounds for the world to pour salt in, or, maybe, it pours out the salve to soothe the wounds of others and teach me something in the process, too. A lot for this introvert to process right now, this pulling outside of my comfort zone to reach far beyond myself and let God lead me to the next chapter. I’m not sure where I’m going with this. I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I know I am a writer. I just have to find my voice.

    Again, thank you so much! beautiful and encouraging post!

Faith & Spirituality

Surviving Motherhood

Here are 3 things to help you survive the hard days of motherhood.

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I walked through the halls of the local high school just as the bell rang. All of the sudden, a wave of students flooded towards me, the only one going the wrong direction. But since it’s been awhile since I walked the halls of any high school, it was like a breath of fresh air. Those students, full of emotion, pain, hope, expectantly going about their day.

Then, I turned the corner into a room with four beautiful girls ready to have lunch with me and along with some other friends of mine. And even though I was much older than they, there was a common thread between us. It wasn’t our age or even our race, but the fact that we were all moms. I became a mom at 29 and they did as a teenager. I just wanted to squeeze each one of them. I have trouble surviving the day without having to remember my homework.

We shared stories about raising babies, and it was a thrill to watch them laugh as stories were told of being peed on or potty training or trying to get them to sleep through the night. The point me of being with them that day was to share with them three ways I’ve survived motherhood.

1. Feed your soul.

Now more than ever, you need to find ways to rest, relax, and restore your soul. We all recharge differently, but for me surviving well means that each day I need to either read something like a magazine, blog, or book. I need to be inspired visually so Instagram or Pinterest can do that for me. I also recharge through music. Music has the ability to transport my mind and my mood. I can hear a certain song and remember exactly where I was when I heard it 25 years ago. When I cook dinner, it is a must to have a John Mayer playlist going in the background. If I need to boost my mood, a little pop needs to be playing. And if I need to feel at peace, worship music plays in the background. Sometimes for me, simply getting outside with music in my ears and walking does the trick. There are so many ways to feed your soul — journaling, exercising, cooking, reading, listening to podcasts, watching something. Find whatever it is and incorporate it into your daily life.

2. Be intentional about building a tribe.

Surviving Motherhood

Let’s all say it together: I can’t do this alone. We were never created to do life alone much less raise human beings alone. Mothering is hard. For many of us with little kids, it’s a miracle that you made it out the door today. And if you were dressed in something other than workout clothes, then high fives all around. We need people to come alongside us to encourage us, to run with us, and to hold our hand when we are ready to quit. My tribe refers to each other as “mom on deck.” Sometimes we need to know there is a mom on deck who can pick your kid up from school or bring you food in the hospital or tuck your kid in when something unexpected comes up. It takes effort and intention to allow other women to come alongside you. If you don’t have someone, be the one who makes the effort. We all want to be pursued but sometimes you need to be the one who extends an offer.

3. Don’t forget to be you.

You are a unique masterpiece created for good works. And just because you have children doesn’t mean that you have to stop being uniquely you. Remind yourself of what you enjoy. Who were you before you had children? Maybe you need to dedicate one hour a week to doing something creative like writing or photography or creating. Don’t be a martyr for your children. It would be a terrible thing for your children to see that being mom is about letting your dreams die. Instead, pursue your dreams so that your kids will see that being mom doesn’t mean letting go of your dreams and ambitions. I recently started a podcast called Surviving Sarah. It’s a show where I have conversations with different people to highlight who they are and what they do so that women will be inspired, informed, encouraged and entertained to survive in this very thing we call life. My daughters think I’m famous because I’m on iTunes and Taylor Swift is on iTunes. I love setting an example to them of imagining the life you want and then invite them along  while you pursue it.

Surviving motherhood is hard. It is not for the faint of heart. I am cheering you on as you feed that baby, change the 100th diaper, wipe snot and endure that epic tantrum. You got this. You are a beautiful, unique masterpiece created for good works.

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Articles

Hibernation for the Soul

It is the bleak midwinter, when spring feels like a far off dream. Sometimes it can feel like our souls are in hibernation mode too.

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The ground is so cold. The stiff blades of grass sheathed in ice crunch hard underfoot. Even the once squishy mud is frozen solid. The wind claws my cheeks. The sun shines coldly, making the trees cast stark shadows on the ground. It is eerily quiet. The chattering birds, rustling squirrels, and nibbling rabbits have hidden themselves against the chill. The flowers are dormant, tucked into their beds of frozen earth, alive but not actively growing.

It is as if everything were in a deep sleep, hibernating.

It is the bleak midwinter, when spring feels like a far off dream.

Sometimes it feels like my soul is in hibernation mode too. Alive, but not growing. Frozen in the dark. Unseen, buried underground.

Flourishing growth seems like a far off dream.

Perhaps an unexpected circumstance blows around me. A medical condition halts my health. Or I struggle against the dark of emotional and mental depression.

But sometimes it is in these hibernation places where the growth comes. Quietly at first, unperceived by others or ourselves. It’s in the dying that growth begins to happen. The seed skin splits and a sprout begins to shoot upward. The cocoon is torn and a green Luna moth struggles free. The tomb door is rolled away leaving behind the wrappings of death.

Jesus himself tells us that we can expect the dark times. The times when all seems dead, ragged, and stripped away. He spoke of his own life and death and those of his followers in these terms:

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” (The Message, John 12:24)

Nature shows us the way. How death can become life. How a burial can produce growth. It may feel hard, cold, and barren at first. We may feel unlovely and unseen by others. We may feel like growth isn’t happening.

But if we entrust ourselves to the patient care of the Master Gardener, we can rest in his hands which plant, water, and prune.

As Lilias Trotter wrote in her famous book Parables of the Cross, “Take the very hardest thing in your life – the place of difficulty, outward or inward, and expect God to triumph gloriously in that very spot. Just there He can bring your soul into blossom.”

Because it really is true: spring is coming.

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6 Critical Questions to Ask Yourself about New Year Resolutions

Here are 6 questions to ask yourself about a New Year’s resolution.

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Did you know that the average person makes the same New Year’s resolution 10 times?

That’s a lot of hopes dashed and discouragement along the way. But I get it. I’ve been there myself.

The turning point for me came when I asked the Holy Spirit to reveal the lies I was believing and the areas of sin that were holding me back from experiencing the bountiful life that Jesus promised. It was only after a period of soul searching and prayer that I actually began to be more disciplined in my Bible reading, eating, exercising, and organizing.

Here are some of the questions I used to guide my prayerful deliberation. I hope they encourage you to make this year the turning point of your life:

1. Why do I want to achieve this goal?

We probably all want better health, better finances, better relationships, and a better walk with Jesus. But that’s only scratching the surface. Spend some time thinking about the deeper reasons that makes this goal important for you.

As you think about losing weight, perhaps you’ll realize that what you really want is to stop sitting on the sidelines when your kids play tag. You want to be more actively involved with your kids, to make memories together, and to share special moments that you’ll all look back on with fondness. Figure out your core desires and see how your habitual resolutions tie to them. You’ll be more motivated to keep your resolutions.

2. What will I have to sacrifice to accomplish this goal?

“No good thing comes easily,” the old adage goes, and it’s true. If we want to experience progress in our lives, we will have to sacrifice things to get there.

Be realistic about what it’s going to take to see your dream come true. If you’re training for a half-marathon, you may have to give up watching Netflix for a season, or suspend your Saturday morning pancakes breakfasts with the family. It’s all a trade-off. Be deliberate about what you’re giving up and choose the better part.

6 Critical Questions to Ask Yourself About New Year's Resolutions

3. What am I expecting this goal to accomplish for me?

Sometimes we can transform dreams into idols, and think that accomplishing this one goal will lead to our happily ever after. But even if you quit smoking, you’ll still need to figure out how to handle feelings of anxiety or anger. Don’t expect your accomplished dreams to save you from the reality of your life — only Jesus can save you.

4. Who will journey with me through this season?

No doubt about it — changing lifelong habits is HARD. And most people who have experienced success attribute it to their support group. So before you even begin, identify a core group of people who will support you along the way. Even better, look for someone who has the same goal as you and team up to keep each other accountable.

When I was in high school, a friend called me every morning for an entire semester to coax me out of my warm bed and straight to my Bible. This night owl experienced a spiritual growth and a deeper friendship as a result.

5. What is the next small step I need to take?

Instead of creating an elaborate plan for how you’ll fulfill your goal, simply identify the next small step you need to take. If you want to eat more healthy, try adopting one small new habit, like eating two servings of vegetables at every meal or only eating dessert when you’re in public to avoid private binges. Don’t try to change everything at once — work on one small habit at a time, and once you’ve mastered that, move on to the next one.

6. How does this contribute to my overall purpose in life?

By far the most effective strategy I’ve used to accomplish goals is to tie them into my life plan. If you know your purpose in life, then your resolutions and goals will naturally flow out of that purpose. This is a dynamic combination of vision and action, and leads to tremendous change that impacts not only you but all the people around you.

If you don’t yet know what your purpose is in life is, set aside 30 minutes to work through this guide and find out. I promise it will give you the clarity and direction you need to make goals that make sense, and make this year your best year yet.

Make this the year that you stop the 10x resolution habit and experience growth and momentum in your life as you pursue the purposes God created you for. He will be faithful to complete the good work that He has started in and through you.

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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Feed Your Soul

by Rachel Broderick time to read: 3 min
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