How to Support Your Sleep Naturally

A few years ago I had the opportunity to sit in a day long seminar on the effect of sleep, or lack thereof, on our bodies.

I've recently turned 40, and I've noticed that I see more and more women my age complaining about insomnia (the inability to sleep or stay asleep) as they age. It's a common problem among women (and new mothers, ahem...) and one science says we really need to address. Actually, it's more common among women than among men...

Among other things, lack of sleep can increase our chances for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and depression (according to WebMD). It can also cause us to gain weight, affect our ability to focus, cause memory issues, trouble thinking, mood changes, weakened immunity, low sex drive, and poor balance (according to this article at www.healthline.com).

I don't know about you, but these things make me want to take my sleep habits a bit more seriously. My family, my ministry, my life is way too important for me to dismiss sleep easily.

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So I decided to do something about it.

One of the main ways I support my body naturally is through the use of essential oils (EOs). If you aren’t familiar with them, EOs are the natural, aromatic compounds found in plants and they have many uses for our health today, including helping us to support sleep naturally.

Most people who have otherwise normal issues with sleep can find all the support they need from using essential oils. They can be used to help you get the rest that you need and wake up feeling refreshed instead of groggy, like some OTC meds do, and they aren't addictive like most prescription sleep drugs. Calming the nervous system, reducing stress, and making a difference in the quality of your sleep are all benefits of using essential oils.

Join our Sleep Study

If you would like to learn more about using essential oils to help support your sleep naturally I invite you to participate in one of our upcoming national, online essential oil studies. We host a new one each month, and can accommodate a limited number of people each time.

Participants must fill out an intake form, attend an orientation, ending survey class, and must not have a doTERRA wholesale account already. Participants also may not already be working with another doTERRA Wellness Advocate (that’s what I am) simply because our goal is not to disrupt already established relationships and methods of support. Once accepted into the study, you’ll be sent free samples of essential oils scientifically proven to help reduce stress and access to extensive education to help you as you go through the study process.

If you’re interested in participating, please join our waiting list by entering your email address here. You’ll receive an immediate welcome email with a worksheet I’ve created called “Ways to Support Sleep Naturally with Essential Oils.” It contains much of the information in this article in easy-to-read, bullet point form (plus some fun extras)!

You’ll receive notification by email with details for our next study at the beginning of the next calendar month, so watch for it in your inbox!

Here’s to less stress and a healthier life. We can do this together for ourselves and our families! They're worth it!

 

How to Reduce Stress Naturally

Last Christmas I went totally off of my regular diet.

Several years ago, my husband and I made a Herculean effort to clean up our diets, and for me, that meant going mostly grain free. I don’t have any disorders that make me need to eat this way, I just get chronic headaches and digestive issues (that’s all I’ll say) when I eat specific kinds of grain. For years I endured these nagging headaches and treated them with ibuprofen. All the research I did kept pointing me back to removing grain from my diet, but, as you might imagine, I was reluctant to do it.

Removing grain is a HUGE deal.

Not at all easy. It’s time consuming, costly, and can sometimes produce a headache (stress and frustration) of a totally different kind. But at just 35 years old (at the time) I knew something needed to change. I was popping ibuprofen like it was candy just to try to get through life, and I knew my body couldn’t withstand that kind of abuse for another 35 years.

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So I went grain free.

Within about 2 months, my headaches were almost completely gone. I still get the occasional sinus or stress headache here and there, but my life has been completely changed because of that one decision.

Back to Christmas.

Part of our overall mission to clean up our health was reducing sugars, and trying to eliminate dyes and processed foods. I’m just a regular girl who struggles as much as anyone to keep to her “feel my best” food choices over the holidays, and the Christmas of 2017 kicked my tail. Seriously. I made lots of poor food choices in the name of convenience and, “It’s the holidays! Let’s celebrate!” and my body began to notice.

I was also very stressed out. I hosted lots of family for holiday meals (TWO Thanksgiving meals in ONE DAY!), juggled extra kids’ activities, and my ministry obligations had gotten a little out of control (not to mention the stress of parenting kids all by itself).

Very stressful things were happening behind the scenes, stretching me too thin and causing me to live in a constant state of “just get things done.”

Just after Christmas, I started noticing that my heart rate was much faster than normal (thank you, iWatch!). At the encouragement of some friends, I headed to the doctor, and went through a series of tests to help diagnose the problem. In the meantime, I began getting my eating and stress levels back to normal. I cut out most sugar and caffeine, got my nose and heart back into the Word of God regularly, started diffusing and using essential oils, and my husband and I began trying to get in 10,000 steps per day, something my naturally sedentary life makes it hard to do.

Over time, the heart issues went away, and I knew that my choices to reduce the toxic load in my life was not only a good thing, it was a very serious thing.

As a society, we’re living more and more stressful lives and calling it good. Rest, recovery, and striving for more peaceful lives seems to be an outdated pursuit of the past. In fact, many of us have bought the lie that if we’re not busy and stressed out, we’re not working at our fullest potential.

Stressed out equals success. Or so we think.

Actually, being overly stressed can lead to things like heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pains, and even irregular heart beats, like I experienced (according to medicinenet.com). The Mayo Clinic says that stress can effect headaches, muscle tension, chest pain, fatigue, sex drive, cause stomach and sleep problems, anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, anger, sadness, and overeating…just to name a few.

In other words, stress is big deal, it’s NOT the key to success, and we need to get it under control.

One of the main ways I supported my body naturally during this time was through the use of essential oils (EOs). If you aren’t familiar with them, EOs are the natural, aromatic compounds found in plants and they have many uses for our health today, including helping us to reduce stress.

Scent is a very powerful thing. God made our bodies to benefit from our sense of smell. I recently walked by someone in the grocery store who was wearing the lotion my grandmother used to wear. Just smelling that lotion lit up my brain and heart with sweet memories of her and my mood was instantly changed. When was the last time you walked by a rose bush or a honeysuckle tree and found your spirits lifted just because they smell so beautiful? That’s the way God made our bodies to work, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Join our Stress Study

If you would like to learn more about using essential oils to help relieve your stress I invite you to participate in one of our upcoming national, online essential oil studies. We host a new one each month, and can accommodate a limited number of people each time.

Participants must fill out an intake form, attend an orientation, ending survey class, and must not have a doTERRA wholesale account already. Participants also may not already be working with another doTERRA Wellness Advocate (that’s what I am) simply because our goal is not to disrupt already established relationships and methods of support. Once accepted into the study, you’ll be sent free samples of essential oils scientifically proven to help reduce stress and access to extensive education to help you as you go through the study process.

If you’re interested in participating, please join our waiting list by entering your email address here. You’ll receive an immediate welcome email with a worksheet I’ve created called “Ways to Reduce Stress Naturally with Essential Oils.” It contains much of the information in this article in easy-to-read, bullet point form (plus some fun extras)!

You’ll receive notification by email with details for our next study at the beginning of the next calendar month, so watch for it in your inbox!

Here’s to less stress and a healthier life. We can do this together for ourselves and our families! They're worth it!

 

On Christian Rights

A couple things need to be said before I really get started on this article.

  1. I intentionally labelled this article, "On Christian Rights," instead of "On Human Rights," because I want to speak to people here who call themselves followers of Christ. I believe the message of the Gospel is for everyone who has ears to hear it, but I'm not naive enough to think people who don't define themselves as Christians will agree with me on any level. Heck, I doubt many Christians will agree with me. But I think it needs to be said. So here goes.
  2. I'm going to try hard not to specifically mention any of the main issues or hot buttons of our day, but rather bring this from the perspective of sola scriptura, which basically means that I use the Christian Bible as my source of truth and revelation, and the foundation upon which I build all of my theology. You can apply what I say here to those issues yourself if you feel so inclined.

On Christian Rights

There's a sentence that's been rolling around in my head and heart for several weeks. I haven't quite known what to do with it, because I know there's a big chance it will come off differently than I intend it to. That's the problem with social media. You can't hear my voice, see my face, or know my heart. I know, I know, we think we know people online because we can talk to them freely, but I think most intelligent, rational people can agree that what you see online is only a snapshot of what people want you to see. When I first started writing, my parents asked me why in the world I wanted to spread my "business" all over the internet. The answer is because I feel called to make a difference in the lives of people. And if there's one thing I know to be true, especially with mothers—the group I most often serve—it's that they don't want to hear anything I say if they don't think I understand and can identify with their lives.

I see this as a "comfort others with the comfort you've been given..." type of relationship, perhaps on a large scale, and I feel complete peace with it. But what my parents were failing to take into account was that for every juicy piece of information I carefully and prayerfully choose to share with you online there are 100 I don't. Intentionally. Afterall, my life isn't just mine. My words might be mine, but the ones I choose to write affect those closest to me because their lives intersect so deeply and closely with mine. I'm discerning, and I don't like to add to a conversation just for the sake of writing words. There's too much fluff on the internet today and I don't want to add to it unless I really feel my words can help.

So the sentence...here it is:

When Christians focus mainly, or even solely, on fighting for our own rights, I think we've missed the point of the Christian life.

Now maybe you can see why I feared misinterpretation?

I believe all humans, regardless of...well...anything...have value and worth and should be treated with respect. I believe that because they were created by God, in His image, and because He found mankind valuable enough to send His Son to die for us. If He loves the pinnacle of His creation that much, I should too.

I also believe all humans have a right to be spoken to and about with dignity, whether to their face or online. The Bible says it's God's kindness that brings us to repentance. Kindness, not hatred. We, and by that I mean Christians, have been dancing way too close to the hatred line when it comes to people who believe differently than we do. Kindness. Speaking the truth in love. These are the things that win people over.

I believe these things about all human life because it's the example God has set for me in His word. It's the way He loves mankind, and so I strive—failing often—to love mankind that way, too.

But...

There's a piece of the equation I believe American Christians have completely forgotten. Maybe it's because we've lived so long in the land where personal rights reign supreme. We're used to having a voice, having free speech, and having the right to the pursuit of happiness. We might be tempted to look at those things and think they're consistent not only with America, but also with the Bible, while Christians in other countries look at them, flip the pages of their Bible, and go, "Hmmmmm. I don't see that here."

American Christians start a lot of sentences with, "You can't tell me..." or, "I have rights, too, you know!" or, "It isn't fair for you to treat me that way!"

I get it. I think at one time I've probably said those things myself. We undeniably live in a country where we have certain rights. We are, as Christians, undeniably losing those rights one by one just because we're Christians. It isn't fair. It possibly isn't what our founding fathers had in mind. We do need to fight for what's right in a way that brings glory to God. But when we remove our country of residence from the equation we realize that our theology has gotten wrapped up in our residence, and that our theology doesn't work on other soils. And if what we believe to be true about God doesn't work in China it doesn't work here. God never says in His word that these truths only apply to Americans. No, His truth applies to all people.

Here's what I'm getting at...

Jesus never asked us to come follow Him and have all our dreams come true. He never said, "Come, and I'll help you toward self-actualization...help you realize your potential. Give you equal pay. Fulfill your dreams." He didn't even say, "Come, let Me validate you and bring you happiness in this life."

What He really said was (or says is), "Come, and die."

I think we forget that these days...America is obsessed with getting what's rightfully theirs. Jesus calls the Christian—here or anywhere else—to lay down what's theirs and follow Him.

“The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with His death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ.

When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow Him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

I want to repeat myself, because by now I think you're starting to doubt me: I believe all mankind has the right to be treated with respect, kindness, love, dignity, honor, and...dare I say it again...kindness. You and I both should be treated this way and treat others this way because God treats mankind this way. He is our foremost example of how to treat others. But God's treatment of and love for mankind can't be defined the same way as ours. His love always comes with truth. Our love sometimes feels enabling. His truth always comes with love. Our truth sometimes feels like hatred.

God's Word says, in John 13:34-35, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another," (emphasis mine).

These verses make two very important points:

  1. We are to love others just as He has loved us. This isn't a license to define love however we want. If there's anything clear about the bigger story the Bible gives us about who Jesus is it's that sometimes...often...love means denying ourselves. No, love isn't mushy gushy feelings. If you want to love like Jesus did, you'll have to die—physically or maybe just emotionally—to yourself and loving the way you want to and do it the way He did it instead.
  2. Jesus gives the world the right to judge us, whether we are true Christians or not, by the way we love. I daresay many of us have left people wondering where our allegiance lies of late.

In conclusion, I'll say this. Being a Christian isn't just about being forgiven of our sins. It IS that in every way, but it isn't only that. There is a life after baptism that bids us come and die. Baptism itself is an outward sign that the men and women we were before Christ are dead. We emerge from the water new creations who are committed to following Christ wherever He leads. If no one told you that's what's baptism meant...what the Christian life meant...I'm so sorry, but now you know. Don't believe me? Study the Bible and see for yourself.

In essence, we give up our rights to lead our own life, and submit them to Jesus in response to the way He gave up His rights for us. What that looks like in practice is slightly different for everyone. Jesus may call you to die to your dream of marriage and be a single missionary. He may call you to die to your dream of being a top executive so you can be the father your children need while they're young. He may call you to die to the big life in order to lead a simple, quiet life serving others and leading them to Him. Or maybe it will be the other way around. Maybe He'll call you to the stage in order to proclaim His Name to the masses when all you want is to go hide in the corner.

The older I get...the longer I walk on this earth...the more absolutely and unwaveringly convinced I become that the ONLY way to live a life that honors God and draws others to Him is to love Jesus.

Love Him first. Love Him most. Love Him best. Love Him hardest. Love Him more than I love myself, my husband, my children, my friends, my rights, my personality, my strengths, my personal desires, my feelings, my emotions, my joys, my heartbreaks, my challenges, or my sin.

Passionate pursuit of Jesus as the greatest love of my life, regardless of other loves, is the only way. Bringing Jesus to the world is what's worth fighting for. I'm afraid we're wasting time fighting for our rights.

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If you're a mom, and this article resonated with you, you might enjoy my newest book, Gospel Centered Mom: The Freeing Truth About What Your Kids Really Need. It's a "Come-to-Jesus" book for moms, encouraging them to return to the truth of what the Bible actually says, instead of living what we wish it said. The Gospel is where our true hope lies! Learn more about it by clicking here.

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What Should We Do About Planned Parenthood?

If you've had any contact with social media over the last few months, you've heard about the horrible accusations against Planned Parenthood. If you haven't, take a few minutes to watch the videos. I beg you...take the time to watch them. They're hard to watch, and should make your stomach turn, but it's necessary to watch them so you can have a full understanding of just how bad it really is. As someone who has spent a good part of her professional life working to serve women in unplanned pregnancies, I'm sickened (but not shocked) by what the general public is now seeing, perhaps for the first time. I'm not shocked, because I've heard the storiesbefore from real, live women who have been on the receiving end of such atrocities.

Abortion is one of the most polarizing issues of our day, but it's grossly misrepresented in media. Across my own breakfast table this week, I had an argument about the kind of woman who has an abortion. Most anti-abortion groups believe women who have them arrogantly disregard life and flippantly come to the conclusion to cut it off.

Not so.

Certainly some are that way, but the women I sat across from at the pregnancy center where I worked told an entirely different story. Their stories were filled not with the battle cry, "it's my choice," but with the desperation of, "I don't have another choice."

One woman entered our facility late at night broken, bruised, and bloody...a "reminder" minutes before her arrival from the baby's father of "the only right decision." She didn't want to abort her baby, but felt she had no other option if she wanted to save her life. Despite our efforts to help her see there could be a different way, she chose abortion.

Another woman came to us believing she would be killed if she had her baby. She was in the US on a school visa, and believed her family would force her home if they discovered her pregnancy, then kill her because she brought shame on the family. Despite our efforts to help her, she chose abortion. To her, it was a real life or death decision—hers.

These women's stories changed the way I talk about and understand women who have abortions. Their stories helped me understand exactly why a woman would choose abortion. Do I believe it's the right choice? That it honors God? That's it best for the baby or best for the woman? No. I believe it's the opposite of all those things. But I understand why women choose it. I understand because I listened to the story.

And it's story that I want to talk about today.

The question I keep getting, as I share the various videos condemning Planned Parenthood via social media, is "What do we do?"

People are enraged about what's happening behind closed doors at Planned Parenthood. People who have never cared before, care now. People who have always cared, care more. But none of us seem to know what to do about it. There are petitions floating around the internet to defund Planned Parenthood, but our government won't take the allegations seriously. The people want justice, but justice is being ignored.

So what do we do?

We tell the story.

I've thought for years that no amount of legislation would keep women from having abortions. I don't concern myself much with overturning a woman's right to abort, because experience tells me that if she feels there's no other choice, she'll do it whether it's legal or not. I would love our country to honor God by making abortion illegal, but I don't think it's going to happen. My greater concern is for the men and women who are being mishandled, mistreated, ill-informed, and down-right lied to, and the babies who are being killed.

The only way to change the abortion problem in our country...to stop Planned Parenthood from taking advantage of women for their own profit—is for the women who have been hurt by them...hurt by abortion...witnessed the atrocities...to tell their stories.

I'm talking about the woman who had an abortion, and regrets it. The one who ended up aborting her only chance at life, because her abortion rendered her unable to have more children. The man who coerced his girlfriend into having an abortion and wishes he had another chance. The woman who suffered depression because of her choice, destroyed relationships, severe medical issues, chronic lifestyle problems. The man who was never given the choice to keep his child. I'm asking the nurses and doctors who have performed abortions, witnessed the lies, the stretching of the truth, the cold-hearted desire for profit, the misrepresentations...those who have witnessed women's lives torn apart by abortion, who have seen infants born alive during an abortion procedure, then left for dead...

I'm asking them to be bold and courageous, and tell the story.

I'm one of those women. No, I've never had an abortion, but I'm a woman with a story. I've seen the damage abortion can do to a woman's heart, body, and soul. I've seen women torn apart physically, emotionally, and spiritually by their choice to abort. I've seen the tears, the vomit, the blood. I've seen fathers weep over the child they weren't given the chance to hold. I've witnessed the desperation, the need to grieve over something they feel they have no right to grieve, and the deep need to be forgiven.

And forgiven they can be. I would be remiss if I didn't say it. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). That's you. That's me. If we're in Christ—meaning we've accepted his gift of salvation and made him Lord of our lives—we're completely and utterly forgiven...even for that. Even for the worst thing we could ever think of. Forgiveness exists for all of God's children, no matter what they've done. God longs to grant forgiveness and restoration. He wants to heal.

So if you've experienced abortion—whether because you've had one personally, worked with women who have, or had any part in the process—I humbly ask you to tell your story. Maybe, for you, that doesn't mean baring your heart on a blog for all the world to see (maybe it does). Maybe it just means telling your neighbor, whose teenage daughter is pregnant, about your choice and why you wish you'd done something different. Maybe it means opening your home to a pregnant mom so she can get away from the circumstances that make it impossible for her to choose life. Maybe it means going through counselor training at your local pregnancy center so you can comfort others with the comfort you've been given (2 Cor 1:4). Maybe it means opening your wallet, and funding your local pregnancy resource center. Maybe it means going through a post-abortion counseling group, so you can find freedom and forgiveness yourself.

I don't know what it looks like for you, but I'm asking you to be bold,  because your story has the power to change the world we live in.

Tell it.

Tell it today. Tell it every day. Tell it until someone listens, until it makes a difference, until the world is different.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you" Deuteronomy 31:6.

If you want to tell your story, and need help knowing how to do it, please contact your local pregnancy resource center. Most have intensive trainings to guide you and help you make your story count for someone else. To find your local center, click here.

Welcome!

Before you read anything I've written, I’d love for you to know this about me: I’m just a girl who loves Jesus, a boymom who needs Him more and more every day, a wife whose husband loves her way more than she deserves, and a sinner whose past no longer defines my present. If you don’t remember anything else about me, like where I went to college, or how many books I’ve written, just remember those things? Because they represent the real me…the one who’s probably a lot more like you than you might think. We’re in this together, friends, and I’m here to help you find hope in the messes of daily life.

Cleats

You can find me writing each Thursday at the MOB Society blog—where we're encouraging and equipping parents of boys as they raise godly men.

But if  you really want to stay in touch, I'd be honored for you to subscribe to my Bits of Brooke newsletter. That's where I really share my heart, and even some exclusive programs I develop just for you. When you subscribe, you'll get my FREE 5-day prayer challenge for mothers of boys, Covering them From Head to Toe (hint: it's written to boymoms, but it's great for mothers of girls, too).

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If you really want to get to know me, check out my full bio, take a look at my books, and just browse this site for some of my old, but still good posts on finding hope in the messiness of life.

Thanks for stopping by!