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Mama’s Bootstraps Aren’t Strong Enough to Help Her Stand

Mama's bootstraps

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Pick yourself up by your own bootstraps? Is that even scientifically possible?

Ok, so I really do understand the gist of what is meant by the familiar phrase. Usually it’s referring to someone working really hard to get somewhere in life… they were in a place where things were tough, and with determination and a lot of effort, they pulled themselves up and had a breakthrough.

Yes, I do understand… 

We all need to put forth the effort, with God’s help, to get out of hard times, financial slumps,  or whatever challenges we’re facing, and purpose within ourselves that we’re going to reach our goals and achieve our dreams… nothing will stand in our way.

However, what happens when you find yourself in an “emotional” slump, and it seems that no amount of self-effort can help you boost your mood? Let’s say your “arms” just don’t have the energy to pull on the bootstraps.

Perhaps, you’ve received some startling or disappointing news that knocked you over.

Maybe you’re missing someone you had in your life, and you just find it hard to smile because of the pain from their loss.

Or perhaps it’s something else.

Maybe you’re still in the process of striving to attain a goal that just seems to be taking forever to reach. Or maybe on a day like today, your eyes fall on what you lack rather than what you have.

Whatever the case, it’s times like these that you simply find it difficult to pull yourself up by your own efforts. You just don’t have the energy or the desire to switch gears and sing a happy tune.

The “bootstraps” just aren’t working on a day like this, so you think, Ok, I’ll just go to bed and wake up tomorrow with a new attitude.

Sleep will be my “refresh” button, and everything will be different in the morning.

But when morning comes and as the new day progresses, you find much hasn’t changed. Your mind wanders back to those same concerns, and the pep just isn’t in your step the way it normally is.

What is a woman to do?

Well, dear ladies, I was there the other day, and it just seemed for some odd reason that, although I have everything in the world to be thankful for- I have God, my health, a wonderful husband, a beautiful family, a nice home, food, clothes, etc- I just flat out lost my joy.

And when you lose your joy…you lose your momentum.

I hate feeling that way. That’s just not how I like to be.

I’m the kind of person who loves having a smile and something good to say. I don’t like feeling “bummed”, and what’s more, for no good reason at all.

Mama's bootstraps

To be perfectly honest, I really didn’t have the “want to” to pick myself up.

It started pretty much on a Thursday afternoon and went on into the next day. It was a feeling I didn’t like. I definitely needed a boost, but it wasn’t going to come from me pulling on my own bootstraps.

So, I decided to ask God for help.

I didn’t know how long it would take before my feelings changed, but shortly after as I sat on the floor with my then toddler who was playing with Playdoh, God gave me the answer. And it was simple: Put on one of my favorite songs by Jesus Culture called “In the River”. And so, I did…

You know what? Shortly into the song, my mood began to change. Although I wasn’t actually singing along, it was like the atmosphere of worship and praise hit the refresh button on my spirit, returning my joy and my thankfulness.

I’m not making this up.

Trust me, I’m the last person that really likes sharing about when my mood isn’t the perkiest. I like to always be full of joy and love. Let’s just say, I prefer to share my “happier” days with others rather than these kinds.

Yet, at the same time, I thought it was equally important to share this kind too… because I know I’m not the only one who experiences days like this from time to time.

The wonderful sense of joy and renewal returning was just too good not to share.

Yes, it’s true. “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 Hence, why I’m sharing.

Yes, friends, God inhabits our praise. (Psalm 22:3) And Jesus gives us “a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:3

As followers of Jesus, I’m here to testify that we don’t have to wallow in those yucky feelings that try to steal our joy and our momentum in life. We can simply turn to our loving Heavenly Father for the help and strength we need and allow Him to give us the strategy that will shift our atmosphere and return us to a spirit of praise and joy.

Trust me, I know. And it was such a tremendous feeling of relief in having my joy return that day that I thought it was worthy of writing about.

So, the next time, you feel in a funky mood just remember… God’s got your answer, and it can all change in a moment.

Faye Adams is a wife, mother, and a devoted follower of Jesus. Faye’s faith plays a central role in her life, and she is passionate about sharing Jesus with others through Bible study and everyday interactions. Believing that our relationship with God through Christ impacts all aspects of life, Faye aims to bring others closer to experiencing the peace, joy, fulfillment, and freedom that come from knowing Him. You can follow her on Instagram.

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Let’s Make a Thankful Tree!

When November comes, it is so easy to shift into being thankful.

Flat tire? We give thanks for what we may have been protected from out on the road.

Sink full of dishes? This is the month we are thankful for the food that was on those dishes.

Loads upon loads of laundry? We are grateful for the clothes that we have.

Why is it that our hearts give thanks for every inconvenience in November, but we forget to be thankful for those same things throughout the year? And believe me, I’m usually the one that forgets in our home.

One thing I have done with my kids for years is a Thankful Tree. This tree is as simple as they come, but it is a constant reminder of all of the little things to be thankful for.

That sink full of dishes… write it on a leaf. The next time you’re tempted to complain about it during December through October, pull out your leaves and remember how you felt about it back in November.

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You can easily make your own Thankful Tree with your children. All you need is a packet of construction paper, scissors, this free printable, scotch tape, and a marker.

Making Your Thankful Tree

First, pull out the brown sheets from your construction paper packet. Tear the longer edges to make the tree trunk a little rougher.

Next, tape the construction paper to a door or wall the long way to build your tree as tall as you want it to be.

Use a few of the leftover brown construction paper sheets to freehand cut out several branches. Tape them to the top of the tree and in random places around the trunk.

Print the leaf printable out on different fall colored construction paper options (green, orange, yellow, red, and brown) and cut them out (especially if you have littles who haven’t gotten the hang of scissors yet).


Finally, choose a time each day to sit down as a family to write out what you are each thankful for (our family uses dinnertime to fill out our leaves). Even if your 4-year-old says, “The dog!”, write it down. We are teaching our children to be thankful, not what to be thankful for. (You can follow the progress of our “Thankful Tree” over on Instagram.)

Our children are now 15 and 12, and they still look forward to our Thankful Tree. The best part is, they can actually help me make the tree at this point. They can form the tree, cut out the leaves, and tape them in a nicely arranged way instead of clumping them together the way they used to. It makes me hopeful to think that one day, they may continue this tradition in their own homes.

May the spirit of thankfulness that we practice throughout the month of November follow us into the busyness of the Christmas season and into the year ahead.