How to Find Joy in Every Season

In those early parenting years, I experienced God’s strength and grace to operate on torturously few hours of sleep — and yet, I was able to because God’s grace flowed through me. I was able to love a screaming child after he had bit me, slapped me, and screamed bloody murder just because I was trying to wipe the dirt off his face. That was God’s love flowing through me. I think the key to finding joy in the difficult moments is not a guilt trip that “you better enjoy these moments because someday you’ll miss them.” All that ever did was make me feel bad — and real joy doesn’t make you feel bad.

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Contented Joy

I didn't begin to understand the joy that can be found in contentment until life got real. Dealing with the stress of taking care of a home and family, raising a gorgeous boy with special needs, and reaching a clinical level of anxiety, all had a way of changing my perspective. Living in my real, grown-up life, I yearn for contentment. I still have goals. I'm still striving to live the life God has prepared for me, but my greatest accomplishment is feeling the blessing of every second.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Be Joyous During the Holidays

Tis the season! The holidays are here which means everyone is struggling with something. Whether it’s the shopping, the cooking, the travel or even just a pesky cousin, everybody feels pressure around the holidays. And as impossible as it may seem, you can find some joy… even in the moments that seem most trying. At the end of the day, holiday celebrations are just that: a celebration. It’s the end of yet another year—remember this time of year gives you the opportunity to relax and get a little space from your everyday routine.

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Series Introduction: Joy

I’ll be blunt and say I don’t agree with the dictionary definition of the word “joy.” In my opinion, they’ve missed the mark and lost out on the true meaning of a word with the power to impact and change lives. The dictionary definition reads, “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure.” Two things, joy is not an emotion nor is it the reaction of something. At surface level, if you were to simply accept “joy” as another form of “happiness” then this definition would fit the bill. I’d like to dig deeper and challenge this vaguely cliché understanding of joy, so you can use this word to its full potential.

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What a Disastrous Thanksgiving Morning Taught Me

Friends, this is no joke — I was IN TEARS sitting in my window seat thinking to myself just how bad things had gone. To top it off, I could hardly take a solid, life-giving breath without my stomach quivering from that awful odor. I felt low. LOW. I was trying to figure out for the life of me why God was testing me on a holiday that should be filled with gratitude and smiles. I’ll tell you right now, I was in NO way thankful for anything other than my fuzzy sweater and the adorable, sleeping man next to me. Thank God for him. Now that I’m removed from this terrible start to my day and now that it’s only a memory, I can see how it actually added value to my life.

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Grateful in Love

"I'm sorry you have to love me." These words have fallen from both mine and my spouse's lips more than once. Nothing makes you feel more challenged and more inadequate than taking on the responsibility of jumping into a lifelong commitment with someone. I never saw life coming when we fell for each other. It all looked like bliss. But Disney lied, y'all! Being in love is hard, and I have yet to meet my fairy godmother or get my animals to talk back to me. Feeling love is simple but living that love is a lesson in humility, compassion, patience, and growth.

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Displacing Worry with Thanksgiving

Worry knows no bounds, limits or exceptions. Each and every one of us experiences worry — for some, it’s every single day. One moment we’re cool as a cucumber, the next we’re such a hot mess it’s a wonder we survive the day without blurting out four-letter words. OK, maybe we don’t… it’s fine, no one is perfect. But, worry and anxiety is a beast. It consumes every thought, and sometimes our actions. You might be asking, “Nikki how does worry tie into thankfulness?” Bear with me, I promise I’m getting there. I recently attended a ladies night at a local church and the amazing woman on stage discussed peace in reference to Philippians 4. She touched on this chapter with perspectives and teachings I’ve never heard before.

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In My Identity, I Am Grateful

It’s easy to take something for granted — most of us do every single day. Think about it. Your morning cup of coffee or the four wheels sitting in the driveway patiently waiting for you. We take things for granted because they are those things that are always there, until one day they won’t be. I often lose sight of just how precious my health is. When my body is able to keep up with my non-stop schedule, I forget the value in its strength.

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Find Happiness, Gain Thankfulness

Despite all the chaos of everyone’s day-to-day life, I believe there is always something to be grateful for at the end of the day. Whether it’s the fact you have a roof over your head or the fact you have a job, or a family, or even a good friend you can rely on, there will always be one thing in your life you can cherish and be thankful for. In the midst of a hectic work week, a stressful project or even a slight existential crisis at age 23, I always try to find time to look at the world around me, pay attention to my breathing. and just be thankful for the fact that I am alive and well.

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Choosing to Be Grateful

I woke up crabby this week. Nothing was really wrong, but nothing seemed right either. I just wanted to sit on the couch and do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. Have you ever had one of those days? Where you just feel blah. You can’t really put words to it, but you just know that you don’t feel right. If I’m not careful, those types of days can take me down a dangerous rabbit hole of emotions. Suddenly things that were a little annoying are world shattering. Emotions I had been keeping successfully at bay, are right on the edge of eruption. Tiny failures become gigantic roadblocks. Missed opportunities feel like throw-in the-towel, it’s-never-going-to-get-better, why-do-I-even-bother-trying, do-I even-have-a-purpose-on-this-earth moments.

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Whatever You Do, Give Thanks

It's 6 a.m. and you start bargaining in your head. If you just dry shampoo your hair, you can get 15 more minutes. If you skip the makeup, you might even make it 30. You're desperately tired and already planning your nap for after work/school/mom-life. Dark circles and puffy eyes are your badge of honor — telling the world you try every day, and you've got the sleep deprivation to show it. It's in those moments you may thank the sweet Lord for the invention of concealer. Does this look like anyone else's life? Is it just me that's running on fumes?

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Series Introduction: Gratitude

Ahh, November... the time of year we begin to feel all kinds of thankful. While it seems ridiculous to embrace gratitude for only one month out of the year, at least we take time to slow down and do so. Am I right? If we didn’t have November, would we truly sit for a moment, away from our busy schedules, to think about what it is we are thankful for? In all honesty, I don’t know if most of us would. So, while we might think it silly of us to only exercise gratitude to this degree once a year, let’s utilize every little bit of time we get to be thankful. Over the course of this month, Crowned Chics is diving into all things gratitude. So, expect a bunch of really thankful ladies over here.

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How to Have a God-Honoring Breakup

Perhaps this breakup isn’t the end but a new beginning. God found me in my mess and I met Jesus throughout the darkest times of my life. He changed me, when I shifted my perspective onto him. Back in 2015, I wrestled with depression and anxiety after a breakup with a guy who at that point, as far as I was concerned, was the love of my life. There aren’t words to explain all the emotions I rummaged through. I felt empty, worthless... I felt broken and stressed and had nowhere else to look.

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Inspiring Story of Strength From Breast Cancer Survivor

Enduring life’s most unexpected, painful journeys teaches one’s soul how to be resilient. When 54-year-old Conni Colella-Ersland found a small lump in her breast in June 2000, she was about to grow a whole lot stronger — because of the battle ahead. When she was in her 20s, Conni’s gynecologist diligently reminded her to have her first mammogram at the age of 35. But, when the time came to follow her doctor’s instructions, the American Medical Association changed the age recommendation to 40 and Conni was told to wait another five years. It was only a few short months later when she discovered the nickel-sized lump in her left breast. 

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Finding Fatherly Love Amidst Heartache

When I was a little girl, my dad had a wife who hurt me deeply with piercing words of my worthlessness for years. Even though I only spent a few months with her each year as I was growing up, she had one of the greatest impacts on my heart and self-image as a child. She hurt my heart deeply. She convinced me I was lacking value — that I would never be as good as her daughter, that I was a liar and a waste of space. Each day my dad would leave for work in the summer, I felt abandoned. I felt left behind.

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Curbing Loneliness with Fake Love

I allowed my loneliness to lower my standards when it came to men. I mended my heartbreak with any bit of attention that would come my way — it didn’t take much for a guy to mysteriously wrap me around his sneaky little finger. But, as you can imagine, any kind of relationship built on a rocky foundation of settling and fragility never ends well. I continuously set myself up for rejection, hurt and loss of interest. In the midst of my loneliness, I allowed myself to experience unhealthy bouts of fake “love” because in my head it was better than being alone.

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God in the Heartbreak

I’ve been out of dating world for over 7 years now and sisters, I freely admit I do not miss it. Dating can be a battlefield of reluctant patience and guys who chew way too loudly. Looking for the man God has willed for you and experiencing heartbreak are nerve-racking, sometimes disappointing, and even unbearable experiences. Still yet, it is equally a time of immense growth, learning to love and know yourself, and drawing closer to your greatest love — God. I have a range of lackluster to downright devastating relationship experiences to draw from. I’m going to focus on two of those not-so-darling guys today and the demise of our relationships.

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The Art of Being Broken Open

So often the notion of being “broken-hearted” is negative. It’s the thing nobody wants, the passed over gift at the white elephant, the untouched dish at the potluck. If you have a broken heart and show it you are often avoided because nobody wants what you’re having. When I read our theme for this month, my first thought was, I don’t want to write about that. But the more I thought about it, the more I had to, but not about heartbreak and what we go through — but what comes out of it.

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Be Broken No More

Life comes with a load of brokenness. Depending on the season we’re walking through, sometimes our haul is manageable and other times we find ourselves huffing from exhaustion. Brokenness comes in many different forms and takes on personas we hoped it never would. I’ve experienced brokenness lately in an array of different shapes and sizes, each carrying its own burden. A few weeks ago I received a rejection letter for a fellowship I applied for. That thing took every little piece of me. I had never worked so hard at something and to see it all fall away is hard to accept.

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The Prayer of the Heart

I still remember the last time I held his hand and watched him sleep. Told him I loved him, not knowing when I would see him again. Although it might seem like I'm talking about a breakup, and this same situation has happened before in my love life, I'm talking about another kind of love. Almost four years ago, I lost my grandfather. Growing up, my dad's parents were a second set of parents for my brother and me. When my parents needed a well-deserved break, for all of our recitals and sporting games, every holiday and birthday and really any day in between, my grandparents were always there.

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