(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 2 of Never Give Up! by Joyce Meyer. I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift someone's spirit.)
Re-cap of Chapter 2 Never Give Up on Yourself....
In Chapter 2 of Never Give Up! Joyce Meyer begins the chapter with a wonderful analogy of the eagle and the chickens. Quick summary...an eagle was raised on a chicken farm like he was a chicken. However, he knew he was meant for something else but couldn't quite figure it out. The farmer clipped his wings to keep him close by. It wasn't until one day when the farmer forgot to clip his wings and the eagle saw another eagle soaring high in the sky did he realize how much more he was meant to be. He victoriously flew through the air and left the barnyard. In this chapter, Joyce encourages us to be like the eagle. Strong, determined, never giving up. Joyce continues to compare other birds and their characteristics with different types of Christians. The eagle is the bird we as Christians want to be. On page 24, Joyce writes "God wants you to be an "eagle Christian", one who can fly high, be bold, live with power, keep circumstances and relationships in perspective, live at peace, stay strong and soar above the storms of life." Joyce also goes on to explain that just as an eagle flies through the air alone, there will be times when we feel alone as an "eagle Christian." It doesn't mean we have no friends or relationships, just that there will be times where God will call us to go higher while others around us don't want to go. I love how Joyce includes on page 26 "Being an eagle doesn't mean you will never be weary or feel stressed; it means you run to God and allow Him to renew your strength when you do feel weary or pressured."
I just loved Chapter 2. I have to say that what I got out of this chapter the most was what Joyce wrote on page 23 about taking care of yourself and respecting yourself. Joyce writes "You are God's house (see 1 Corinthians 6:19). You are His building, His temple, and He lives in you! You will destroy the temple by being overcommitted, overworked, living on junk food, not drinking enough water, not getting enough sleep and rest, and failing to exercise." I was deeply encouraged to find myself again. Do you know what I mean when I say "find myself again?" If you're a mom, especially a mom to a child with autism, you know you are a totally different person now than you were before kids. Don't get me wrong, I love being a mom and some parts of me that change is for the better and I am a better person because of it. However, I've become known as Mom to Sean and Hunter and also wife to Jeremy. I've lost Nicole. Who is she? I remember being this carefree, spur of the moment, fun girl. Now I have to have everything planned out, perfect and I take things a little more seriously than I did before. I don't want to go back to being the person I was before I had my kids. First of all, it's impossible to be who you were before you had children. Second of all, I really don't want to be that person. However, there's more to me. I have a lot of dreams. One of them, the biggest I'd say, is that my son who has autism miraculously wakes up one day completely healed. Another dream of mine is that I'll finally get around to writing that novel that I've always dreamed of writing. I think of some of my dreams and get very overwhelmed with what's on my plate right now. How in the world can I concentrate on myself with the little spare time I have? I have a horrible diet, I stress out a lot and who has time to sleep? After reading Chapter 2, Joyce really encouraged me to take the time to take care of myself. If I'm not taking care of myself, my body, my mind and my emotions how can I do everything that God needs for me to do. Whether it's writing a book or writing up my son's homeschool lesson plan for the week, I need to feel rejuvenated to do so. The better we feel about ourselves, the more we can help others. Here's what I'm going to start doing....
1. Waking up earlier (yes, my kids get up really early as well) so that I can take some time to be with God. I'm going to read His word first thing in the morning to help prepare me for my day and my obstacles for the day. Joyce shares on page 25 "I need to spend the first couple of hours every day with God, because if I don't, I could be grumpy and short with people."
2. I'm going to start exercising in the morning. This means I'll have to get up even earlier. However, I know that on the days I get up early and walk around my neighborhood, I feel better about myself and my day goes better. I tried exercising at night. It doesn't work for me. After a day full of homeschooling, behaviors, cooking, cleaning, etc...I don't have the energy to exercise.
3. I'm going to eat better. For me, it's as simple as giving up the sodas (did I really say simple?) and drinking more water.
4. I'm going to take more time out for Nicole. Maybe I'll learn to knit, rollerblade, scrapbook, or just sit down with a really good book. I have to give myself some time each day. This will probably require me to give up some really good reality tv shows.
5. I'm going to take more time out for Nicole and Jeremy. Date night can be as simple as an easy meal at home with a movie. Once a week is a must.
6. I'm going to spend some time with my kids just letting them be kids. No ABA, no verbal behavior, no therapy. Just us being together.
7. My family is going to make decisions through prayer and not through listening to what others are doing. Too many times I feel like we see what other parents are doing with their kids and think "our kids should be doing that too." It's a constant struggle of "keeping up with the Joneses."
I really believe that by taking these steps to better take care of myself, I'm preparing myself to be a stronger person. A stronger "eagle." If I'm not exhausted and I feel good about myself and respect who I am, I will have more confidence to go higher when God asks me to do so. Touching back on the eagle and the chickens story, I believe that I too am like the eagle. I believe that I am where God needs me to be....a wife, a mom to child with autism, a mom to twin boys, a friend, a daughter and a sister. I don't want to fly away from this. However, I do believe that within each one of these roles, He wants to take me higher. He wants me to have the confidence to reach out to that mom whose child was just diagnosed and tell her how much God loves her. He wants me to be a strong daughter for my parents to lean on when they need me the most so they can feel His love. He wants me to be that wife that loves, honors and yes obeys my husband even when I don't want to. He wants to take me higher than I can ever imagine. All I have to do is prepare myself to soar.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
3 John 1:2
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.