3 Ways to Find Joy in the Hallway

3 Ways to Find Joy in the Hallway

Does joy seem elusive when you're traveling through a long hallway?  Do you feel like you've lost your sparkle when life gets tough?  

There are many times in life when we don't feel like rejoicing, and certainly the Bible indicates that will be seasons of sadness.  But as I've thought about and prayed over the direction of the blog, I'm realizing that I want to take some time to focus on developing a habit of joyful thanksgiving in addition to our posts on suffering.  

After all, as Christians, we have the hope of Eternal Life, where we will spend forever with the Lord!  All of our struggles here on Earth should pale as mild afflictions in comparison to the joy of Eternity with God.

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Day 22: Remember Christ's Sacrifice

Day 22:  remember Christ's sacrifice Welcome to Day 22 of the 31 Days to Hallway Praise challenge!

When I was at college, we heard the Cross preached almost daily.  In fact, I almost grew tired of hearing, "Christ died for your sins."  That's a little hard for me to admit, but it's true.  And isn't it sad?  We as believers should never take for granted the work that Jesus did by dying in our place.

I think part of the reason I struggled so much during my college years was that it seemed to me as though the Cross was most often presented to unbelievers needing to be saved, and I as a believer wanted more than just being told of Christ's death on the Cross.  There is so much more to His sacrifice.  It goes so much deeper than merely a man being executed for something He didn't do.

But one pastor did speak of Christ's sacrifice from the standpoint of the believer.  "Remember Calvary every day," he told us.  It's excellent advice.  If you've been a Christian for a long time like I have, it's easy to fall into complacency.  As terrible as it is, it's easy to forget all that the Lord did for us.Today, I want you to remember Christ's sacrifice.

As I just mentioned, there is so much more to Christ's death than merely a man dying on a cross.  From the fall of man way back in Genesis 3, God orchestrated the substitution of His perfect Son to die in our stead.  He first created the original-but-imperfect sacrificial system of the Old Testament that gave way to Jesus' ultimate, perfect sacrifice.  All through the Old Testament, God promised to send His Messiah, and in the New Testament, we see that promise fulfilled in Christ.

The Cross - and Christ's resurrection that followed - spans the course of history.  And we need to stop and think on this amazing act of God's mercy and grace, lest we grow hardened and forget.

More than that, the more time we spend to remember Christ's sacrifice, the more we fix our eyes on Him.  And the more we fix our eyes on Him, the smaller our hallways become.  Everything we do in life needs to be focusing more on the Lord and less on ourselves.

Admittedly, this is something I really, really struggle with!  I like thinking about myself.  A lot.  It doesn't matter if we think of ourselves too highly or too lowly; either way, we're still thinking of ourselves too frequently.  Turning our eyes back to the Lord will be a constant battle for all of us, but it's one of the best ways to praise Him even when life is hard.

Today's action steps:  Read Old Testament passages on the  Jewish sacrificial system.  Then go through the Gospels about Jesus' death and resurrection that ended the animal sacrifices.  It's incredibly powerful to see how God wove His perfect plan of salvation through the entire Bible!  We can praise Him for His amazing sacrifice.

Day 22: remember Christ's sacrifice

Day 17: Know Your Enemy

Day 17: know your enemy

Note:  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  You can read my disclosure policy here.

It's Day 17 of the 31 Days to Hallway Praise challenge!

When Turbo was first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, the hospital staff gave us some excellent advice:  "Don't Google anything right now.  There will be time for that later.  For now, just let the doctors explain."  And you know what?  That advice was perfect.  The internet is FULL of conflicting information, opinions, and even evidence.  Having just one set of doctors at the hospital to listen to helped cut out all of the controversy.

When we knew nothing about Type 1 diabetes other than that our spark plug had just been diagnosed with it, we felt completely helpless.  It was only after talking with the doctors, being trained by the nursing staff, and pouring over the literature the hospital provided that we began to find a foothold to stand on.

And once we were out of the hospital and had adjusted a little bit to our new "normal," we were able to do more in-depth study.  Although the hospital didn't recommend any change in diet, we read about other diabetics that were having better blood sugar control with a healthy lifestyle.  While that information would have been absolutely overwhelming at diagnosis, we were now able to properly digest it.

So, today's assignment, if you're ready for it, is to know your enemy.

For example, if you're going through a financial squeeze, start researching money-saving ideas.  My personal favorites are Money Saving Mom, Living Well Spending Less, The Complete Tightwad Gazette, and The Total Money Makeover (purchasing used copies or finding them at your local library are great ways to save on the cost).

If you've been diagnosed with something, learn about it from doctors you trust.  I highly recommend also researching for holistic or natural remedies to help combat it, but be wise with this information.  (We've had people tell us not to give Turbo his insulin and just to use natural remedies to treat his blood sugar.  While some Type 2 diabetics have been able to manage their disease through diet and lifestyle alone, a Type 1 cannot.  We use diet and lifestyle to help him in other ways.)  The Truth About Cancer, though very controversial and far from mainstream, is eye opening (but please use caution with this, as always - there are some things they teach that concern me).

If you're struggling in your marriage, seek out Godly, wise counsel.  Talk with couples who have made it through a rough patch.  Read Scripture.  Two of my favorite books on marriage are You & Me Forever and Feminine Appeal.  I know there are many others that offer sound, Biblical advice on marriage, too.

Even if it might seem easier to bury your head in the sand, facing your trial head-on and being armed with knowledge can go a long way toward helping you get through it.  Your trial might be pretty scary, and the facts about it might be difficult to take at first.  But there's nothing worse than not knowing.  When you know your enemy, you'll be better able to confront it.

Today's action steps:  Determine what your current hallway is - financial, relational, spiritual, etc.  Begin looking for Biblical information on your hallway that will help you understand it better.  Don't obsess, but do try to spend a few minutes each day learning more about your situation so that you are as prepared as possible and can know your enemy.

Day 17: know your enemy


Day 16: Be Thankful for Your Glass

Day 16: be thankful for your glass Welcome back to the 31 Days to Hallway Praise challenge!  Let's jump into Day 16.

"Is the glass half full or half empty?"

We've probably all been asked this at one point or another.  This question is supposed to help people determine whether they're optimists (those who see the glass half full) or pessimists (those who see it half empty).  I'm sure the person who first created this line of thinking hoped to encourage people to take a positive outlook on life.

Personally, I'm almost always a glass-half-full kinda gal, at least at first.  When storms hit my life, I try to take a positive approach.  But if a hallway ends up being long and drawn out, I notice that I begin to wander into a more pessimistic mindset.

In fact, sometimes it seems that the glass isn't half full OR half empty; it's all I can do to be thankful that I even have a glass at all!

Have you ever found yourself in a similar position?  Maybe you're there right now as you're reading this post.  Or perhaps you've gone even further and are starting to wonder if you even have a glass.

I can promise you:  no matter what you're experiencing or what you've already gone through, if you are alive, if you have been saved by grace, if you have a personal relationship with your Heavenly Father, you definitely have a glass.  And it's overflowing.

Maybe your marriage is in shambles.  Maybe you're broken over a wayward a child.  Maybe you've lost a child.  Maybe you're in a season of depression.  Maybe you've just been diagnosed with cancer.  But no matter how bad your Earthly circumstances are, you have a Father in Heaven Who loved you so greatly that He sent His Son to die in your place.  Compared to that rich blessing, everything else is a "momentary and light affliction" (see 2 Corinthians 4:17).

I don't mean to joke about serious trials.  Many of us are facing grave circumstances.  I know.  Sitting in an exam room, listening to the on-call doctor telling you that your child has a life-threatening complication of a terrible,  life-long disease, all the while knowing your husband is about to get laid off and that you have an insurmountable medical deductible to pay, it's pretty hard to be thankful for your glass - full, empty, or otherwise.

But dear friends, even in the most dire of circumstances, we need to fix our eyes on Jesus.  We need to continue praying.  We need the support and encouragement of the church body.  We need to be reminded of all our spiritual blessings.  Those don't go away with suffering; rather, suffering often enhances them.  That's one of the great ironies of the Christian faith.

Maybe you're not currently in a season of waiting or hardship.  How can you be a blessing to those believers around you who are?  You can help them to be thankful for what Christ has done on their behalf.  You can remind them to trust in God's goodness whether or not they can see it at the moment.

You can remind them that they have a glass, and it's called Eternal Life.

Today's action steps:  Read through your gratitude journal.  Remind yourself of all the "glasses" the Lord has given you, especially the gift of Eternal Life.  And be thankful for your glass.

Day 16: be thankful for your glass


Day 11: Do Something Lovely

Day 11: do something lovely

Note:  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  You can read my disclosure policy here.

Today's post is one of my favorites in this entire 31 Days to Hallway Praise series.

Today, let's put aside all of our must-do's, should-do's, and need-to's.  For one day (or even part of a day, if you absolutely can't take a full day off), let's do something lovely.

What does a lovely day look like to you?  Maybe it's spending time snuggled up with your children and a copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Maybe it's lighting a scented candle and watching your favorite movie with your spouse.  Maybe it's enjoying a leisurely bubble bath.  Maybe it's as simple as getting up 10 minutes earlier than the rest of your crew so that you can enjoy a hot cup of tea uninterrupted.

Forget the bathroom that hasn't been cleaned in 6 weeks.  (Trust me, one more day won't make a difference.)  Let the kids do the dishes today.  Give the dust bunnies a little longer to play under the sofa.

While I'm not encouraging laziness or belittling the high calling of homemaking, I do want you to take at least some time to do something lovely and to reflect on all the Lord has given you.  Think about how His Son died on the cross on your behalf.  Consider the depth of the Father's love for you.  Read through your gratitude journal and recall your many blessings.

My idea of something lovely would be staying indoors on a stormy day, listening to the rain drumming on the roof while enjoying a mug of Constant Comment.  The spark plugs and I would spend oodles of time reading aloud together before we set the table with the expensive China (even though I don't have enough place settings for the entire family) and waited for Jon to come home from work.  After dinner, we'd all play a game together (Rummikub is my all-time favorite).  Last of all, Jon and I would spend some time in adult conversation after the kids were in bed, thinking over the day and thanking God for His abundant blessings.

Maybe my lovely day looks nothing like yours.  It doesn't matter.  Find some way to do something special that gives you the opportunity to meditate on who God is and what He's done for us.  What better way is there to praise Him than remembering His faithfulness?

Today's action steps:  Choose to do something lovely - something that both relaxes you and makes you smile.  Be creative.  You don't have to spend any money on this project if you don't want to.  Arrange a time for your something lovely, whether that means finding something to occupy the kids for a bit or clearing your schedule to allow for some free time.  Then do your lovely thing, praising the Lord for all His mercies while you do.

Bonus points if you schedule in another "lovely" day next month, too!

Linking up at Faith 'N Friends, Grace and Truth, and Sitting Among Friends.

Day 11: do something lovely


Day 9: Read the Psalms

Day 9: read the Psalms I have a confession to make:  when I was younger, I didn't care much for the Psalms or for King David.  He came across like a "woe is me" kind of guy, and I thought his Psalms sounded like he was whining.

I wasn't terribly sympathetic, was I?

When I was growing up, we lived comfortably.  My parents weren't wealthy, but my dad had a steady job, and he and Mom enjoyed a rock-solid marriage (they still do!).  Certainly, there were hardships - my grandma developed a fatal brain tumor; one of my brothers ended up needing an emergency appendectomy; and my other brother underwent several surgeries when he was little.  But compared to many people, I was blessed with an easy and ideal childhood.

When I was younger, I just couldn't relate to someone who had gone through the difficulties that King David experienced.  Now that I've been through a few hallways in my adult life, though, I find so much solace and comfort in the Psalms and in reading through David's life.  I have a much better understanding of the trials he experienced and why he wrote about them the way he did.

If anyone knew what it was to experience hardship and heartache, it was King David.  He had marital problems.  He had sin issues.  He lost a child.  His enemies were constantly attacking him.  He was at odds with his grown son.  He was wrongly accused.  His best friend was killed in battle.

The Psalms he wrote show the wide range of emotions he experienced.  But even the Psalms written at the depth of his despair end with, "I will choose to praise You, O my God."  (See Psalms 56 and 142.)  No matter what he went through in life, David chose to find his hope in the Lord.

No wonder he was considered to be "a man after God's own heart" (Acts 13:22)!

We can read the Psalms to help us follow David's example of finding our hope, joy, and peace in God even when circumstances aren't what we wish they were.  We can pray through the promises we find in the Psalms.  And we can take comfort in knowing that God placed the Psalms in His Word as a means of comfort for us.

Today's action steps:  Read the Psalms.  You can read one a day or several in a sitting.  It's up to you!  As you read through, jot down the ones that impact you the most so that you can re-read them later on.  I hope you'll develop a life-long love of the Psalms!

Day 9: read the Psalms


Day 8: Make Time for Exercise

Day 8: make time for exercise I can hear the groans now.

Make time for exercise?  Really?  Like anyone has time for that!  Besides, isn't this series about spiritual matters?

Yes, exercise.  Really.  We all can - and should - make time for it.  And yes, our goal for this 31-day challenge is to develop our spiritual muscles and create habit of praise even when circumstances are difficult.  But believe it or not, exercise can help toward this goal!

Because our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, staying healthy can be a spiritual discipline as well as a physical one.  This will be easier for some than for others, given health issues, body types, and things of that nature.

When I was growing up, I ran.  A lot.  Even though I hated it.  But then I developed a painful, pregnancy-related condition that made running impossible for several years.  Now, however, the pain has subsided, and I've been running again.  I can't run far, and I certainly don't look pretty doing it.  I can only run once or twice a week.  But I'm trying to be faithful to exercise on a limited scale instead of just throwing in the gym towel because I can't exercise every day.

I thought running would get easier.  For me, it never does.  I honestly don't know how much physical benefit I'm getting from running, but I'm certain that it's better than not running at all.  And it's done worlds for my spiritual growth.

  • I can pray for others as I run
  • I get to spend time with my spark plugs while running
  • I get to take in God's amazing creation
  • I feel happier as a result of exercising (I'm pretty sure this is due to endorphin creation that exercise causes)

Running doesn't have to be your choice for exercise.  I once saw a documentary on a woman who could only move her arms from her elbows her to wrists, so her form of exercise was clapping.  She kept at it, even though she admitted to feeling very silly, and with a lot of hard work, diligence, and determination, she got to where she regained mobility.  She started where she was.

I chose to run because it's free, it's something I can do with my kids, and it gets all of us outside.  Something else may be a better fit for you.  Just start where you are (and get your doctor's okay to begin exercising if you're not already active).

It's not easy to make time for exercise, but if you're willing to make it a goal, it can benefit both your physical body and spiritual mindset.  

Today's action steps:  Begin a physician-approved exercise regimen that fits your needs and lifestyle.  Whatever level you're at, start there.  Then, once a week or once every other week, slightly increase the intensity or duration, taking care to listen to your body's cues (please don't overdo and injure yourself).  With slow and steady diligence, you'll see progress!

Day 8: make time for exercise






Day 6: Drink Water

Day 6: drink more water

Note:  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  You can read my disclosure policy here.

Welcome back to 31 Days to Hallway Praise!

When we're in the middle of a spiritual battle, it's important to take care of our physical health.  When we're hurting, it's easy to forget simple things like drinking enough water or taking our multivitamins.  And physical strain on top of spiritual pain is a recipe for disaster.

So, part of our 31 Days to Hallway Praise challenge will cover taking physical care of our bodies.  Today, I want to remind you to drink water.  Drinking plenty of water is one of the easiest and least expensive health boosts you can do.

There are a wide variety of opinions on how much water each person needs to drink.  Some say that a flat 8 glasses is good for everyone.  Others recommend drinking half an ounce to an ounce of water per pound of body weight.

I personally believe that you need to make a judgment call for yourself.  If you can comfortably take in more water than you regularly drink, do so.  If you are finding yourself running for the bathroom every few minutes, you might want to cut back a little.  However much water you decide to drink, make sure you're constantly sipping and not just chugging once in a while.

Will drinking water cure every ailment?  No, of course not.  Will you see a noticeable increase in health?  Maybe, maybe not.  But drinking water will help keep you hydrated; it can help prevent ailments like bladder infections; and and it's easy enough that implementing it is actually doable.

Drinking physical H2-O also won't improve your spiritual life, but Jesus has much to say about spiritual water (see John chapters 4 and 7).  You can use your water bottle to remind yourself to spend time in prayer if you need an extra reminder.  As you care for your physical body, remember to care for your spiritual life, too.

Today's action steps:  Find a fun vessel for your water intake.  I've used Contigo water bottles in the past, but my recent container crush is a colored mason jar with a straw and lid (note that these don't fit into a car cup holder very well).  Someday, I'll get even more creative and add some raffia and a silk sunflower.  :)  Once you have your favorite container in hand, drink water!

Note:  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  You can read my disclosure policy here.

Linking up at Faith 'N FriendsFresh Market Friday, Grace and Truth, and Sitting Among Friends.

Day 6: drink water




Day 5: Fix Your Eyes on Christ

Day 5: fix your eyes on Christ We've made it to Day 5 of the 31 Days to Hallway Praise challenge!

Today's goal is a big one:  Fix your eyes on Christ.

It might seem odd that I've kept this one for Day 5 instead of using it on Day 1.  I mean, isn't fixing our eyes on Jesus the number one goal in our Christian faith?  Yes, it is, but I've saved this gem for today for a purpose.

On the first day of our challenge, we made it a goal to pray every day.  On Day 2, we decided to memorize Scripture.  (By the way, what passage did you choose to memorize?  Leave a comment and let me know!)

Prayer and Scripture memory are two excellent ways to help keep our eyes focused on the Savior.  Now that we've had a few days to start making these part of our daily routine (for those who weren't already doing them), we've built up some spiritual tools to help us fix our eyes on the cross and not the crisis.

Friends, it is so - SO - easy to do what Peter did in Matthew 14:28-33 and let the storms of this life prevent us from looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).  We need to spend time in prayer and in God's Word in order to forget about the wind and the waves and to think only of the Lord.  It's not an easy task.

My trials loom largest when I'm staring them in the face.  They seem most overwhelming when I fully focus on them to the exclusion of everything else.  And I feel the most overwhelmed when I allow them to engulf me.

How about you?  When are your hardships the most difficult to handle?  I'd guess that the same is true for you: when they take your complete focus, they appear to be insurmountable.

Thankfully, there is a way to combat the overwhelm:

Fix your eyes on Christ.

Take your gaze away from your trials and look to Jesus.

But we can only do this through the help of the Holy Spirit, through prayer, and through feasting on the Word of God.

Today's action steps:  Start focusing on what God can do and stop worrying about what you can't.  Continue to immerse yourself in prayer and the Scriptures.  Fix your eyes on Christ.

Day 5: fix your eyes on Christ

Day 4: Make Your Bed

Day 4: make your bed

Note:  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  You can read my disclosure policy here.

We're on Day 4 of the 31 Days to Hallway Praise challenge!

A year or so ago, I watched an incredible graduation speech given by Admiral William McRaven.  Not surprisingly, it was well-thought-out, concise, and expertly delivered.

What surprised me, though, was his first point:  make your bed every morning.

(You can fast-forward to 4:35 on the video if you want to get straight to his 10 points.)

It seemed so simple, almost too lowly.  But as he explained his choice for this first recommendation, I saw the wisdom in it.

Will making your bed every morning change your mood?  Perhaps not.  But what it will do is give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  It will teach you about routine.  It will help you take pride in your environment.  And it can set a precedent for the rest of your day.

Because of all those benefits, I'm recommending it now.  There is a lot in life we cannot control.  We don't know what tomorrow holds; we don't know what the Lord has planned.  But we can choose what we do with the time we have today, and we can choose to make our beds.

In full disclosure, I'm terrible (TERRIBLE!) at making my bed in the morning.  (Please don't tell my mom.  She definitely taught me better than that.)  I think it started way back when Jon worked nights - he was rolling into bed just as I was getting up, and making the bed wasn't really an option for many years.

But I'm also bad at keeping routines, too.  I think if I were to start making a conscious effort to make my bed, it would naturally lead to an improved morning routine, which would then, in turn, help my evening to go more smoothly.

So, for this challenge, making my bed every morning is something I am aiming to do.  Will you keep me accountable?  You can leave a comment asking how I'm doing, you can fill out the blog's contact page, or you can send me an email at julie(at)hallwayinitiative(dot)com.  I'm going to need all the help I can get!

If you're a veteran bed-maker, today's assignment will be really easy.  Maybe you could add in something else just for this challenge, like wiping down your bathroom mirror or cleaning out under your bed.  And if you already routinely do those things as well, just write down in your gratitude journal how thankful you are to have this assignment already completed!

Making your bed is just a small step, but it is a pretty easy one.  Let's commit to making our beds every morning for the next week and see if there is any improvement in our day.

Today's action steps:  Start making your bed each morning.  If you're feeling really ambitious, you can begin by washing your sheets.  Clean sheets lend themselves toward easier bed-making.  Why, I don't know; the just do!

Related:  If you've not tried either the Make Over Your Mornings or Make Over Your Evenings courses, I highly recommend them.  At just $17 each, they are a fantastic investment in streamlining your day.  They would go a long way toward helping you remember to make your bed!

Linking up at Faith 'N Friends, Grace and Truth, and Sitting Among Friends.

Day 4: make your bed


Day 3: Keep A Gratitude Journal

Day 3: keep a gratitude journal

Note:  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  You can read my disclosure policy here.

Welcome to Day 3 of the 31 Days of Hallway Praise challenge!

Developing a consistent habit of prayer and memorizing Scripture are two great ways to help you as you seek to praise the Lord during hardship.

Another excellent step is to keep a gratitude journal.  (You can choose something as fancy as this, or you can do what I did and just grab a $0.50 composition notebook from Wal-Mart.)

I started keeping a gratitude journal for the first time this year, and I've loved it.  But I'll be honest:  while many days (maybe even most) I find it easy to think of multiple things to be joyful about, there are days where I'm scratching my head, searching for even one thing to be thankful for.  But without fail, if I take time to really think through my day, I can find at least one thing to write down.

If you're going through an extremely trying time, the first few days of your gratitude journal might be really, really hard.  But if you've eaten that day, you can be thankful for nourishment.  If you have a roof over your head - even if it's not your own or even if the bank is threatening to take it away - you can be thankful that you have it today.  If you've lost a loved one, you can rejoice that you had the time with your loved one before he passed away.

Start small if you have to.  But do start.  It may not be easy, but cultivating an attitude of gratitude will go a long way toward helping you choose to praise the Lord no matter what your circumstances are in life.

If you're not in the middle of a trial, this is a great time to get into the habit of writing down things you're grateful for!  Chances are good that you'll have more struggles down the road, and if you're already in the practice of looking for the blessings in life, it will help buoy your faith during a later hallway.

If you need more encouragement or just want something uplifting to read, I'd love to introduce you to Laura Coppinger's Gratituesday.  She comes up with amazing things to be thankful for!

Today's action steps:  Get or create a gratitude journal.  You can even start jotting down things on the back of an envelope (I use junk mail envelopes) if you don't have the resources for an actual journal right now - just snip out your words and collect them in a glass jar to read over.  You might want to mark down the date for reference.  Try to write down at least one thing every day this week!

Linking up at Faith 'N Friends, Grace and Truth, and Sitting Among Friends.

Day 3: keep a gratitude journal