Happy Thanksgiving!

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I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Please know that I am grateful for you. It’s a privilege to encourage you on a daily basis, and I’m grateful that you’ve included this blog in your daily routine.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, can I ask a small favor of you? Two, really.

  1. Would you pass Chewables on to your friends? You can forward the email, or post from the blog on social media. My hope is simply that if you are someone who connects with me, maybe the people you hang out with would resonate, too, and be encouraged.
  2. If you don’t already, would you consider contributing to our Patreon account? Patreon is like Kickstarter, but it’s monthly support for creatives putting their work out into the world. As a bonus, my Patrons receive special invites to private events, discounts on all my work, and some behind-the-scenes videos or updates. It helps us keep the lights on, pay the people helping us produce so much content every week (Chewables.blog, Spirit Farm Podcast, and more).

Here, again, is the Patreon page.

I hope this Thanksgiving Day is a special one. May God bless you and may you see His many blessings!

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Thankful. Like, really

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“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High.” -Psalm 92:1

When’s the last time you sang out loud? Sunday? In your car? In the shower?

Let me ask a better question:

When’s the NEXT time you’re going to sing out loud? Right now? In two minutes when you walk over there and shut the door? In your car on the commute?

Come on… Don’t overthink it. Invite your family or roommates to join in. Your singing can change the environment you’re in. Yes, someone might flee the environment. But song, joy, and celebration have a way of elevating any environment.

Sing! It’s good for your soul. It’s good for them, too.

Think about it… Why do we love concerts so much? They move us at a core, emotional, and spiritual level. Beyond the words, it’s the music that moves us.

There’s something built into us that was designed to sing—to celebrate, praise, thank, shout for joy. There’s a letting out of emotion in the direction of your designer. It matters. It’s part of the design.

Bonus: It actually makes you feel better! Singing can change your emotional state and encourage your heart.

Try it. Go ahead… Sing and give thanks. Turns out the “Most High” isn’t far away; and He likes your tune.

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More Thankful

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“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim His greatness.” -1 Chronicles 16:8

The more you say “thanks”, the better you feel. It’s science.

As you talk about how great God is—and focus on how great He’s been to you—you will actually start to feel “great,” yourself. Of course, “great” is relative, and you might be physically in pain, or deep in some hurt… But nevertheless, you’ll feel better and better the more you focus on God’s greatness… His goodness… and the blessings He’s orchestrated for your life.

So much of life is simply a matter of what you’re focusing on.

Someone once said, “Where focus goes, energy flows.” It’s true.

There are people who have focused on their pain, their loss, the injustice, and their resentment for 12 or more years. What you focus on grows! It’s gets bigger… worse… and it becomes an emotional resident in your heart and mind–creating a filter for how you see the world (“people can’t be trusted”) and for how you see yourself (“victim”). It limits our experience of life and makes excuses for why we’re settling. And it’s always someone else’s fault.

You can choose what you’re focused on throughout the day. Choose GRATITUDE. After all, you’re blessed.

Choose what you’re focused on today.

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” -Philippians 4:8

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Thankful

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“And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” -Ephesians 5:20

We’re starting the week of Thanksgiving by being thankful. If you just try and get thankful on Thursday, you’ll be bad at it. Let’s practice—so you’re good at gratitude—and shine on Thanksgiving  🙂

Also, you’ll actually enjoy this week if you can  be grateful in the midst of it. And, as we all know, things are heating up and the holiday chaos is creeping in on us. We need more than holding hands and offering an obligatory blessing to be our best selves this season.

Maybe “best self” is way off your radar, and you’re just trying to power though. Let’s shift that thinking.

And here’s a hint: it begins with being THANKFUL.

List seven things you’re thankful for—in your journal, on scratch paper, or say it out loud. And name seven things. Don’t stop at five. Don’t go through the motions. Name them.

Now reflect on them. Feel them. Let yourself feel the gratitude in your heart of these blessings. Come on… play. Your attitude and outlook hang in the balance.

Close your eyes and reflect on those seven things and the myriad of other blessings God directs your way all the time…

Don’t forget:

  • breath
  • heartbeat
  • body mobility
  • loving relationships
  • natural beauty surrounding you

The list is endless. Let yourself fall into the endless generosity of your Creator.

Be thankful.

Tell God you’re thankful. Write it… or say… let yourself feel it. It’s all “prayer.” There are no magic words of spiritual rites of passage. Just honest appreciation directed to the Source.

Take a deep breath. Smile. And move about the rest of your day with a little more appreciation for the Divine Design and His generous ever-presence.

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Hilary hijack: blame game

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We’ve all been there… we have experienced some level of trauma or mistreatment. Our flesh and desire is to seek revenge. We want to take matters into our own hands and inflict pain on those who hurt us. We blame them for our current circumstances and situations.

When we carry unforgiveness–harboring feelings of blame or anger towards someone–and it goes untreated or unresolved, it actually magnifies the emotion. So a new offense triggers the same root emotion of an old offense and all of a sudden we have made a mountain out of a molehill.

Recently, while Caleb and I were on a spiritual retreat, I had time to reflect on my recent circumstances, and there is no doubt in my mind that I was mistreated on so many levels. My flesh wants to cry out and tell everyone all the gory details of how awful people were to me… but that is NOT what God calls us to do. And to be honest, that would leave me where I have been stuck in the past–in the cycle of blaming others and not healing or growing.

Furthermore, while I do not believe God brought any of this pain on me, He has allowed it. Therefore, I can and must learn from my pain if I want to escape the cycle. I can learn to combat the victim spiral. I can stop pointing my finger at others and blaming them for my current circumstance.

So I decided in my brain that the best way to combat blame was to do the opposite. Which I thought would be to take ownership. However, when I turned to wikipedia and asked for the antonym of blame I found these words: exonerate, praise, endorse, approve, compliment.

In the context of pain someone has caused you, if you find yourself blaming them, try blessing them. It’s not saying what they did was right. I believe it is allowing your heart to see them as a human sharing the same human experience and appreciating them for how God has made them uniquely.

I tried it out recently, and I can tell you it feels GOOD! Something happened in my soul that only God could do. A freedom that I was so desperate for.

Also, no one looks good with poop in their mouth. So clean it up. 🙂

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….For He cares about you

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“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” -1 Peter 5:7

This week, I’m breaking down this one verse word by word, phrase by phrase, in the hopes that it lingers in our minds in the best kind of way. This is the fifth and final installment.

“…for He cares about you.”

Give all your worries and cares to God, because He cares—He cares about YOU.

This final phrase in the verse shifts the whole thing from a good spiritual tip that makes your life better into something more. Something more personal, more powerful.

If you’re willing to do the difficult, scary, even dangerous work of trusting your cares and concerns to God, you will experience peace. Not because of some transaction. And not because of a self-help formula. You’ll experience peace because God cares. He’s a relational God who is with you; He is for you; He is engaged in your life and wants the best for you.

This isn’t about earning something or pleasing God or being a better religious performer. This is about a loving God who doesn’t want you to suffer unnecessarily.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” -Jesus (Matthew 6:34)

Jesus didn’t promise life would be easy. Quite the contrary. He said, “follow me,” then He suffered greatly. But He also talked constantly about a kingdom of heaven that is right here in the middle of this earthly existence. It’s just out of plain sight in the realm of “look more closely.” It’s the open-handed experience of peace in the middle of chaos. It’s the optimistic joy despite the painful circumstances. The honest grieving while never giving up. It’s the skip in your step when the path is still unclear.

The kingdom of heaven on earth is walking with the God who cares for you and trusting that He’s got this. Which is a relief, because, left to my own understanding, this life if frick’n nuts.

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…To God…

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“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” -1 Peter 5:7

This week, I’m breaking down this one verse word by word, phrase by phrase, in the hopes that it lingers in our minds in the best kind of way. This is the fourth installment.

“…to God…”

Give all your worries and cares to God. Not to your spouse for validation. Not to your therapist because it’s his job. To God.

Wait a minute… Certainly, spouses, families, therapists, and good friends all have a role to play. God uses them. We need them. Relying on others is part of our freedom.

Then…

There’s a moment when you’re alone… when you call them, but they can’t pick up… when you know the tools and it’s simply time to apply them in the heat of the mental battle.

It’s just you, standing at the precipice of the downward anxiety spiral. What do you choose? Clench your fists, cling to your worries, and fall. Or, open your hands, give and trust.

Release the entitlement of knowing how this will work out. Let go of your claim to making sense of it. Give your right to understanding how good will come of this injustice.

Give it.
Give it all.
Give it to the God who offers you peace with an eternal, everything-is-going-to-be-alright perspective. It’s not alright yet. It’s not resolved in the material sense. But there’s a mysterious reality just beyond what you see and feel and touch. And there… there it’s already good… you’re already golden. Your spirit is at rest and wholly connected to the life-giving peace of God.

Let’s borrow a little peace from that eternal reality. Let’s claim strength from your future, completed self. I think that’s spiritually “legal.”

Give your worry to God. He wants to give you something better.

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…Your worries and cares…

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Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” -1 Peter 5:7

This week, I’m breaking down this one verse word by word, phrase by phrase, in the hopes that it lingers in our minds in the best kind of way. This is the third installment.

“…your worries and cares…”

Give all your worries and cares to God…. even though they’ve been “yours.”

I know, your first instinct is to reject the notion that you’d claim worry or anxiety as your own.

“I don’t want this! It’s brutal. It paralyzes me. I hate it!”

Yes, but it’s familiar. Don’t hate me… but it’s your mode of operating. You’re used to it. Even though it’s agony, it’s strangely comfortable because it’s what you know and it’s gives you a sense of control. The world is out of control, but in your mind, you think you’re bringing yourself a sense of control by agonizing over all the possibilities.

If not you, who else will? Right?

But it’s not working. And it’s hurting you.

Like imaginary friends in the corner of your beautiful mind, look at your anxieties and tell them you don’t need them any more. Honor your brain for being so diligent and resourceful. And then give it a break.

If you’re in the security business or a parent around a pool, you know how to turn it on when you need it. But you also can learn to turn it off when you don’t.

Give all your worries and cares to God. Especially the ones that have become so normal. You think they’re yours—just part of who you are. Not any more.

Free is possible. Bit by bit. Thought by thought. Moment by moment.

There’s a little more peace for you today, It’s possible. Peace, too, can be yours.

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…All…

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“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” -1 Peter 5:7

This week, I’m breaking down this one verse word by word, phrase by phrase, in the hopes that it lingers in our minds in the best kind of way. This is the second installment.

“…all…”

Give ALL your worries and cares to God. Not some. Not this morning and then take them back tonight, because insomnia is your thing. Give them… give them all.

“Yeah, but there are so many that flood my mind, I can’t keep up.”

I know, because you’re not practicing. Train your mind to give them all away. Like anything else, it takes practice. Practice makes progress. Progress toward peace.

So let your mind be active today. But focus your activity on naming your fears, worries, and anxieties. Test them; call them what they are.

Is the thought inspiring you to walk in fullness and strength, trusting your God with confidence and experiencing joy? If so, you’re in the flow. If not, call it worry and hand it over.

Hold nothing back. Give them all away.

If your forward-thinking and dreaming is causing you worry—hand it over.

If your boy-scout preparedness is costing you sleep—release the worry.

If your people-pleasing responsibility complex is dominating your mind with troubling scenarios—give it away.

Give it ALL away.

Be diligent. It’s for your own sake.

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Give…

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“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”  -1 Peter 5:7

This week, I’m going to break down this one verse word by word, phrase by phrase, in the hopes that it lingers in our minds in the best kind of way.

“Give…”

To give is active, not passive. It seems that God isn’t just going take away your worry and anxiety. You have to give it.

Open your hands. Will you offer the thing that’s haunting you? Will you release the anxious stream of thoughts that keep flooding your mind?

You might have to “give” again 12 more times today. But let’s start now.

And let’s not take it back on purpose. I know, you’re used to it. As torturous as anxiety is, it’s become common, thus comfortable to you. The devil you know versus the one you don’t, kind of thing. After all, you justify, “it’s just how my brain works.” Well, rework your brain. Peace is on the other side if you’re willing to give your worry to your God.

I think He’d rather hold it for you than have it weigh you down and drain your energy.

Oh, and try not to take it back later when you think of that other scenario that might play out if such and such happens. Don’t call it being thorough. Call it what it is—worry.

And hand it over.

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