Relax, Reflect, Recharge

How to Love the Life You Live


Thank you Encouragement for Today and NICKI KOZIARZ for today’s message:

I spent the first few years of my childhood in a small town. We were by no means well off, and we always seemed to have just enough to get by. So rarely was there room in our budget for extras … like the black and white saddle shoes I wanted one year.

My dad was the high school football coach, which meant I spent a lot of Friday nights with my mom and brother in the bleachers. The game itself was anything but thrilling to me. But I didn’t mind going because it meant I was able to watch the cheerleaders. That was exciting!

I would watch and dream of the day I too would get out there in a pleated skirt with pom-poms and make the crowd roar with enthusiasm for our team. The cheerleaders must have known how much I looked up to them because they invited me and my best friend to come cheer with them for one of the last games.

Our elementary schoolgirl excitement was out of control!

High school cheerleaders?! YES!

We practiced in the backyard every chance we could get leading up to the game. And one afternoon, we even put on our uniforms.

But my zeal for this opportunity quickly faded as I looked down at my friend’s feet. She had a pair of brand-new, shiny, black and white saddle shoes!

My thoughts screamed with envy: What? Where did she get those? I need a pair too!

I went to my mom and pleaded for the shoes — but our bank account didn’t match my begging, so no matter what I said, it didn’t matter.

And so began the sowing of the seed of comparison in my life.

This seed reaps nothing but weeds of jealousy, envy and discontent into our lives. I wish I could tell you that was the only time I’ve struggled with the seed of comparison, but it’s not.

Today’s generation seems to be filled with more opportunities to compare ourselves with each other than ever before. We are constantly bombarded with social media feeds that tempt us to compare. Reality TV show us everything BUT reality. And advertisers tease us with promises that their products will provide perfection.

But here’s the deal … I LOVE today’s key verse, because it’s helping me find a rhythm in my soul with this comparison thing.

“Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” (Galatians 6:4).

The reality is, comparison can compromise the individual calling and beautiful life God has given each of us.

If we spend more time looking at what others are doing or have, we could miss what we have and are supposed to do. Staying focused on what good things are happening in and through us will help keep this inner battle of comparison at bay.

Before that big football game, my mom actually found a pair of black and white saddle shoes I could borrow. No, they weren’t shiny brand-new ones like my friend had; in fact, they were pretty scuffed up and a little tight on my feet! But I was thrilled. I took so much pride in those shoes and I loved them.

Our culture will always try to tempt us with comparison, but God never does. He wants us to love our life just as much as He does. Even if the shoes are scuffed and tight … God helps us love where we are, not where we wish we could be.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!


Hope Wissel

A Solution for Loneliness

Today’s blog is from NICKI KOZIARZ and first appeared in Encouragement for Today:

“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone …’” Genesis 2:18a (HCSB)

I’m in the midst of a challenging project for my career. And maybe challenging projects are exciting to you, but what it really means for me is sitting for hours on end in sweatpants starring at a blinking cursor.

Showers have become optional.

Reading documents aloud to your dog starts to feel normal.

And cereal accounts for dinner at least two nights a week.

This project is my dream. I feel like I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a lifetime. So, I feel badly for the next words I’m about to say. But, this dream feels incredibly … lonely.

Most days, it’s just me and my thoughts for hours and hours. Sometimes I’ll email a few thoughts to a friend and ask her honest opinion on it, but 90% of the time, it’s just me and my thoughts.

And when that’s the company you keep for days, your thoughts can mess with you:

You can’t really do this.

They picked the wrong woman for this project.

Deadlines and the other demands have made this season almost impossible to incorporate time with friends. But as I’ve talked with other women, it seems I’m not alone in my loneliness struggle.

I hear women all the time say, “I feel so … isolated.”

For some, it has to do with hectic schedules — there’s no time for friendships. Others have been deeply wounded by people — there’s no desire for community. And many, like me, are in a different season of life than others in their circle of friends.

But the other day, a friend unexpectedly stopped by to pick up something. A family member opened the door, while I was in sweatpants, hadn’t had a shower and really just wanted to sit in my office. But I knew my friend would think it very rude if I didn’t at least say hello.

So I took a deep breath, excused my appearance (which thankfully she cared nothing about) and we ended up in an hour-long conversation. We didn’t talk about work or deadlines … we just shared about our lives.

And it was the most refreshing hour I’d had in a long time. I left that conversation with confidence to get back into my working rhythm.

As I read Genesis 2:18a, I was reminded how from the very beginning, God designed us to be in relationship with others: “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone, …’”

Although this verse refers to the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, it’s clear God created us with a longing, a need, to have people speak into our lives.

It’s so easy for us to forget this. Or let our pride convince us we don’t need people in our corner. Isolation’s biggest lie is that we somehow are capable of thriving through life without someone by our side.

So my friend, I don’t know if this is your struggle today or if it’s one to come. But keep that lunch date, take the time to pick up the phone to chat and invite those people back into your life.

I promise … it’s worth it.

Dear God, help me see the people You have put in my life as a gift from You, for my good. Let me embrace them and invest my time into relationships. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

“Giving myself away so others smile”