Finding Grace #84

I love giving God a shout out for what He has done. We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot.

I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

Where did I find God’s love and favor—His abundant grace—this week?

This week was really good! We had a lot going on this week, though God was faithful to help us get through it all. My entry way light was replaced, which is a huge blessing. Now, I can cross it off my to-do list (after nearly a year of putting it off!).

This week, we had several late nights, due to meetings and activities. We had fun though! Surprisingly, Lydia wasn’t overly tired from staying up late. I had her take a nap one after school one day, which really helped. Perhaps she is also just getting used to the early mornings now!

Tuesday and Wednesday were full with work, writing, and church. At work lately, sometimes I’ve been using a new office in a different building. But I’ve called tech support about a half-dozen times for various issues. I had to request a certain program to be installed. Then, I had problems with logging into it. I also had to call about my printer, my mouse, and my phone. Hopefully everything is up to speed soon!

We haven’t been on any major road trips for a few months. But today Lydia and I went to Jamestown, ND, for a Junior Bible Quiz (JBQ) meet. We probably won’t travel to too many meets this year, but we enjoyed this one about an hour-and-a-half away! I didn’t have many expectations for Lydia, since this was her first time. Mainly, we were going to check it out so we know how everything works. Hopefully, when she is older, she will be able to jump right in! All in all, we had fun with friends and enjoyed a beautiful fall day!

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

Live Like You’re Loved

I’m tellin’ you somethin’
This racing, this running
Oh, you’re working way too hard!
And this perfection you’re chasing
Is just energy wasted
Cause He loves you like you are!

The lyrics above belong to the song, “Live Like You’re Loved,” by Hawk Nelson. I’ve enjoyed listening to the song since I first heard it. But lately, I have been listening to the lyrics a little more.

For whatever reason, I feel like I’ve had noticeably less energy lately. My lethargy could be related to the weather, stress, lack of sleep, etc. (or a combination of factors). However, I’ve been enjoying the rain we’ve had, don’t feel overstressed, and have been sleeping pretty well. So, who knows?

Quite possibly, I could just be worn out trying to doing too much!!

So go ahead and live like you’re loved
It’s okay to act like you’ve been set free
His love has made you more than enough
So go ahead and be who He made you to be

As I have considered these lyrics, I have taken the song to heart. When I think of all I still have to do, I take it to Jesus to help me sort it out. He loves it when we come to Him! I don’t have to be chained to my to-do list!

So, I have been intentional about taking breaks and resting. I’ve enjoyed reading, catching up on a favorite show, and calling a friend. Lydia and I have walked to a nearby park to play, colored, and made a fun treat together. On a couple of days, I’ve even squeezed in a short nap!

And live like you know you’re valuable
Like you know the one that holds your soul
Cause mercy has called you by your name
Don’t be afraid to live in that grace

I am grateful for God’s grace when I feel weak. I know with Jesus, I can do everything I need to do! He is my strength and my song. When I’ve specifically asked Him for help this last week, ultimately, I have been more productive throughout the day!

Yes, the Lord has given me everything I need. His mercies are new every morning and His grace is sufficient. Nothing can compare to His lovingkindness. Praise God!

Live like you’re loved, walk like you’re free
Stand like you know, who he made you to be
Live like you’re loved, like you believe
His love is all, that you ever need

This part of the song (above) is my favorite. It feels a little like a personal anthem. When I remember how much God loves me, I can hold my head up higher. I can smile and laugh and play. I can walk in freedom, knowing He gives me Victory. I don’t have get bent out of shape over imperfect progress. I can enjoy myself instead of stressing out!

“Live like you’re loved” could mean something different to each person and could vary by season of life. I love that we are all unique!

For me, it usually means acknowledging and honoring my weaknesses, inabilities, or failures. This often means asking for help and letting the Lord meet me where I am. Coming to Jesus is the best and first step. Lord, I need You!

I find ‘living loved’ also means recognizing when someone else needs help, because I’ve been there too. When I serve someone else, I notice my problems are not so urgent. Showing compassion is a win-win for all of us!

When I take the time to pause and soak up His love, I notice God all around me. He renews my joy and I can share generously with others. I don’t have to focus on my lack of energy (or other resources)… because with Jesus on my side, I will always have enough!

Life is short. Live like you’re loved!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for all You do for me. Thank You for renewed strength every day. As I depend on You, please give me energy and direct my steps. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What does “live like you’re loved” mean to you? What is something you can do to live loved right now?

Task: Listen to the song, “Live Like You’re Loved,” by Hawk Nelson!

Finding Grace #63

I love giving God a shout out for what He has done.
We don’t do that nearly enough!

You may have seen the acronym GRACE as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is also God’s unmerited favor, or God doing for us what we cannot.

I find grace overflowing in God’s love, joy, peace, blessings, mercy, power, provision, protection, and wisdom. Thank You, Jesus!

Where did I find God’s love and favor—His abundant grace—this week?

I’m not sure there are enough words (or space!) to describe this week. It was really sweet to see how everything worked out, by God’s grace. It started with Mother’s Day on Sunday, which combined the 4th anniversary of Dave’s death on Monday, always makes me aware of the void in our lives…of all he is missing. However, both days went well. We had lunch on Sunday with a friend and an impromptu ice cream celebration on Monday with more friends. I felt God’s love all around me and many people checked in with me. Thank you!

Lydia’s last day of preschool was on Wednesday, so we prepared end-of-year gifts for her teachers. All year, Lydia had been asking me to get her main teacher a jar of pickles. (Apparently, she likes them!) So, for the last week of school, I finally agreed. We wrapped up two different kinds of pickles along with a gift card and thank you note for her teacher. Lydia decorated the bag with stickers. I hope she found much humor in it, because Lydia was really excited! (I explained the pickles were from Lydia, specifically…not me!) 😉

On Wednesday evening, we also had an impromptu pancake dinner ‘party’ with the neighbors. After school, I dropped their little boy off and we ended up staying. We were trying to decide what to have for dinner, and I said Lydia had been asking for pancakes all week. I ran home (across the street) for pancake mix, oranges, and my electric skillet. My neighbor supplied bacon and sausage! It was so fun (and delicious!)

On Thursday, a friend watched Lydia while I went to the dentist (no cavities!) and did some writing. I really appreciated her help and felt like I got a lot accomplished. Later, we joined our neighbors again for the Fargo Youth Run (one event of many, during the Fargo Marathon week). We all ran the half mile. Lydia was proud of her cape and “Finisher” medal! I prayed for good weather, as it has been a little cool and windy that day. It was a perfect evening for a run!

I’ve had a dull headache all on-and-off all week, so didn’t do as much as I planned on Friday. Instead, we decided to stay home and rest. Praise God! After a brief afternoon nap, I accomplished a few tasks after all. On a whim, I decided to mow the yard because it may rain for the next few days. I’m glad I didn’t procrastinate!

Today, we shopped for groceries before a gentle rain started. Then, a friend across the street came over to play. I did some reading, made a couple phone calls, and prepped some vegetables for the coming week. After a brief nap, Lydia and I are taking it easy tonight. Maybe we will enjoy a movie while it rains!

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These are only a few examples, but God’s grace never runs out!

There’s grace in every situation—we just need to look for it. God promises if we seek Him, we will find Him (see Jeremiah 29:13)!

 

Good Goals, God’s Grace

Happy New Year! I hope your 2017 is off to a good start.

Do you make any New Year’s resolutions? Or do you choose ‘a word’ to mark your year?

When considering options for this year, I thought about making changes, choosing a word, or trying something new. But in the end, nothing really resonated with me.

So maybe I will just keep on my current path! That’s a good thing because I don’t think I could appreciate 2017 without my focus from last year.

2016 became a year of rest for me. I felt the need to apply more grace and more space to my everyday life. Once more, I realized I can only do so much. If I don’t remember to take care of myself, I won’t be able to take care of anything (or anyone) else.

Last year, I focused on getting adequate sleep, taking breaks, and keeping a restful mentality. It sounds fairly simple, but it required some effort! The hardest part was cutting out extra activities and distractions. I had to decline many new activities (even some really good opportunities).

I said “no” to finishing my to-do list every day (even when it kept calling my name!). I pushed back deadlines when necessary, instead of trying to push myself to reach an unreasonable goal.

With that restful attitude, I redecorated my house and make it a better representation of our life now. I’m so thankful I did, because now I have a better perspective going forward.

In terms of goals and growth, I don’t like to make drastic changes (though, sometimes I probably should!). Instead, I’d rather adjust my habits. It’s not rocket science, but it does take some determination. Because, of course, I like to take my sweet time

This year, I am developing more self-discipline and consistency in my life. Nothing really new—just less excuses and procrastination! I am not adding any new tasks, but I have tweaked my routine—the timing and structure of it all!

Not super glamorous, but necessary.

Sure, I have specific goals for sleep, exercise, reading, water intake, and more. The common theme, however, is waking up early to accomplish these goals before Lydia wakes up. Or, at least as many of them as possible!

I could go on and on about SMART goals, accountability, or setting up a tracking system. I will spare you all that—but I am amazed at what I can do with a proper bedtime!

By simply readjusting my timeline, I’ve been getting enough sleep and using my time more wisely. I’ve had more energy early in the day, and sometimes can cross off a few more tasks. Generally, I have more wiggle room in my day…and a better attitude all around!

Of course, theres always something to potentially derail me. Even this morning, I have had to switch things around and save them for later. Ill always be a work in progress…

Thank God for His sweet and refreshing grace!

Still, I have a feeling that 2017 is going to be our most exciting year yet. There will be challenges, important decisions, and transitions. Lydia will start Kindergarten and we may try to squeeze in a trip or two. We have lots of options ahead!

But, truthfully, I can’t do it on my own.

I cannot maintain any level of success in my own strength. Trust me, I’ve tried and failed many times! A (recovering) perfectionist’s worst nightmare! 😉

Yes, the only way I will be successful is if I seek the Lord’s input first.

If I am too busy, always running around, I can’t ‘hear’ from the Lord. A slower pace and a more open schedule means less stress and more ‘listening time.’

God created me to do good things and He has the best plan for my life! So it’s wise to check in with Him before setting my schedule (see Ephesians 2:10).  A huge timesaver!

My victory comes from the Lord. My help comes from Him, too! Jesus sustains and defends me. His grace is more than enough to meet my need. I place my trust in Him!

So set goals. Yes, absolutely! But pray too. Ask the Lord for help.

Life is short. Don’t waste time on things that don’t matter. Only Jesus brings real, lasting change. Commit yourself and your plans to Him. Then you will have true success!

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Father God, thank You for the gift of Today. Thanks for new mercies, grace, and opportunities. Show me the path to take. Help me accomplish the tasks You have for me. I trust You, Jesus. In Your Name, Amen.

Questions: Are you trying anything new this month or year? How is it going?

Tasks: Commit your tasks and plans to the Lord. Trust Him to help you accomplish all He has for you!

Here in This Moment

Often, when I write these posts, I have a million things on my mind. Right now, I also have a never-ending list of tasks, such as going through mail, reading a mountain of books, and putting away the dishes. Most of the time, I get started…and then get interrupted.

For example, I might process half the mail, read half a book, and/or unload half the dishwasher…and then I’ll remember I still have the other half of the laundry to finish!

But don’t worry! I will get back to these tasks soon enough…

For now, however, I am enjoying this moment.

psalm-46_10

Currently, it’s so quiet I can hear a clock ticking in the bathroom down the hall. In my home and in my heart, I can feel God’s presence. I’m grateful for His peace.

While I have many things I could do, I am simply sitting still…taking it all in. Everything else can wait. I’m grateful for God’s grace.

As I look all around, I see many blessings. There are blessings in the form of mail from friends and family, and books inviting me to go on a journey. There are dishes from a delicious meal. I see boxes that held Lydia’s birthday gifts. I see bills reminding me of warm water, clean clothes, and electricity. I’m grateful for God’s provision.

Like most people, I have several ongoing decisions to make. Most are routine responsibilities, like monthly budgets, meal planning, and managing our schedule. Sometimes there are bigger decisions, too, that require more prayer. But I won’t worry. Here in this moment, Jesus leads me to Victory! I am grateful for His wisdom and direction.

pillow-and-chair

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’”

“But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42, NLT).

Yes, instead of thinking of all that needs to be done, I’m going to stay in THIS moment.

I am not procrastinating. Before long, the ‘busy-ness’ will begin again. Something or someone (Lydia) will beckon me. But, for now, this moment is the best place to be!

colorful-mug-with-tea

As I rest, I relinquish any unreasonable expectations for the day. God knows just what I need to accomplish and He is more than able to help me!

As I relax, I release heavy burdens and place them at Jesus’ feet. I realize I don’t have to do ‘everything’ on my own. There is freedom in His love and mercy!

As I relish the calm, I am restored. Jesus renews my energy. He refreshes me with His everlasting strength. His grace is sufficient!

As I refocus my attention and readjust my thoughts, I reconnect with my Heavenly Father who loves me dearly. His Truth is what I need!

Sometimes we all need a quiet moment (or two) to catch our breath. Even when chaos and noise surrounds us, God is always with us morning, noon, or night. So wherever you find yourself today, you can breathe in God’s grace in each moment!

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Father God, in this moment, I turn to You. Draw me close, Lord, and let me feel Your warm embrace. Give me strength as I go about my day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: How long has it been since you were still in the presence of God?

Tasks: Take a short break and reconnect with God! Enjoy solitude if possible…or pray, journal, listen to soft music, or take a walk if you need. If you have difficulty being still, review and reflect on God’s names and attributes.

The Art of Waiting Well

On most Sundays after church, Lydia and I eat lunch and discuss what we learned or did that morning. This week was no different, except, Lydia couldn’t quite recall what Bible story she learned in her class that day.

“Hmmm…let me think…” she said. “Well, there were two girls and a boy.”

That really didn’t ring a bell for me! So I asked Lydia to explain more.

She said, “Um, one girl lived really far away. And, she decided to go home. Then, the other girl told her, ‘Well, I won’t leave you here.”

Lydia continued, “And she told the first girl, ‘So how about I just go with you?!’”

field

I laughed with realization, and half-guessed, “Oh, are you talking about Ruth and Naomi?!”

“Yeah… I think so…” Lydia went on, “And then there was a boy too…” She couldn’t remember anymore details about him!

I loved Lydia’s little paraphrase and the details she focused on. I gave her a quick overview of Naomi, Ruth, Boaz, and Baby Obed. Then, with motherly emphasis, I told her,

Think about how much Ruth would have missed if she had given up!”

Instantly, I also sensed a lesson for me too.

My circumstances are vastly different, but I understand how difficult it might have been for these two ladies to consistently make good decisions, move forward, and trust God. I’m sure it felt like the odds were stacked against them.

Generally speaking, Lydia and I do well most days. But there are days and seasons when we struggle. The pressure to quit tends to go through cycles, and my determination can wane.

Mostly, these are normal challenges we all face…one way or another.

checkmate

Of course, it’s often easier to procrastinate or abandon a time-consuming project, than stick with it and see it through. It’s hard to hold onto dreams or goals that take a lot of effort…when it takes forever to see results.

I have found most ‘God-projects’ take awhile, though…and are worth it.

It’s also easier as a parent to give in to your child’s demands, rather than stick with the appropriate discipline. It’s another long-term commitment!

But the constant pressure of these challenges can quickly wear me down.

We may have unique struggles, but all of us can feel discouraged and defeated at times.

Some days I go ‘on my merry way’ and everything just works out just fine. But on tough days, it can be tempting to run away (ignore the problems altogether) or run ahead of God (try to fix the problems on my own).

Still, there is a hidden blessing when challenges come.

Yes, that’s when I most remember I need God’s help. In fact, I can be thankful for those times, too, because they help me draw near to Him! When I want to run and hide, let me run to Jesus!

As we come to Him in our weakness, He infuses us with His strength.

The Lord might move in my situation…or He might move me. But I need to let Him make the decision…not me! As I stand firm and wait for Him to act, He prepares me for greater things:

Victory!

As I cling to Jesus, He refines my character and makes me more like Him. The Lord is faithful. Whatever happens, He will work it out for my good and His glory!

patience-is-the-art-of-waiting-well-2

There’s waiting, and then there’s waiting well. While I wait, I can:

Pray for wisdom, grace, and perseverance.

Seek God’s input first. Then ask for outside help, if needed.

Focus…and refocus…on Jesus. He’s the ultimate goal!

Commit my steps to Him. Trust Him for perfect timing.

Remember: I can do difficult things!

Have a good attitude, and make lemonade!

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Jesus, thanks for Your grace and strength. Instead of running away or running ahead, help me to run directly to You, Lord. Help me not miss all the good things You have planned for me! Help me persevere. In Your Name, Amen.

Questions: What difficult circumstance(s) are you facing now, that make you want to give up? How can you wait well, with patience and perseverance?

Tasks: Write down your dream or goal. Then, consider what is at stake if you give up. Memorize Philippians 4:13, or another favorite Bible verse.

Because He Is Faithful

The last few weeks have been quite full around here … I’m sure you can relate!

I’ve had some awe-inspiring “I-can’t-believe-I-get-do-this” moments and some “not-so-fast-try-again” moments. I’ve had some late nights and a couple early ‘zombie’ mornings, as well. You too?!

These days, I am trying to focus on sleeping more each night and resting more often. But at times, I can still feel overwhelmed! In those moments, it can be difficult to figure out which task needs to be done first. They ALL seem urgent and important!

post-its-all-over

My to-do list often grows faster than I can check tasks off! “To-do or not to-do” quickly becomes the question. I’m sure you’ve been there too!

However, recently, God reminded me He knows the limitations of my day and time. He knows I can’t possibly finish everything at once. He is not the one pressuring me to complete each task…therefore, maybe I am creating my own stress!

As a result, I’ve started to look at things differently…like maybe each task on my should-do list is simply a heavenly heads-up. God already knows I can’t do it all—a lesson I am continually relearning—but He wants me to be in the loop about what is coming.

He is an awesome planner after all!  I keep focusing on working with Jesus, rather than having to accomplish everything on my own. What grace!

So I will continue to pray and prepare wisely throughout the week, but will not worry when things don’t get done. I will work hard, yet stop to take breaks and enjoy life.

I feel better already!

hebrews-10_23

Of course, none of us know what each day will hold—no matter how much we try to schedule it. But I am glad to leave it all in the hands of Jesus.

Because He is faithful, I don’t have to depend on my own understanding. I know He will show me the right path to follow (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Because He is a faithful Provider, I don’t have to worry about making ends meet. I can go to bed at night and rest well, knowing He is watching over me and working on all that concerns me (Psalm 127:2).

When I feel weak, wanting to give up or give in, He gives me the strength to persevere. And because He is faithful, I can do all things He has called me to do, though not necessarily everything I think I should do (Philippians 4:13)!

path-in-the-woods

Yes, because He is faithful, I can be content despite my circumstances (Philippians 4:11). In the midst of trials, I know He will come through for me.

When I don’t measure up, even then, He won’t let me down. When I stumble, I know He is faithful to forgive. His mercies are new every morning and His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9)!

Because He is faithful, I know Jesus will keep His promises (Psalm 145:13). Life is tough, but He will not leave me to fend for myself. So I will let Him lead me and sustain me. He knows exactly what I need!

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Jesus, thanks for the daily reminders of Your love and grace. I put my hope and trust in You, for You are faithful. Lord, help me keep the right perspective that I get to do life with You, and don’t have to do it alone. In Your Name, Amen.

Questions: Is there anything you are trying to handle on your own? Can you take it to Jesus and leave it with Him?

Task: Write down a list of all the ways God has been faithful to you.

 

5 Benefits of Taking a Break

I don’t know about you, but I cannot believe how fast the summer is going! It’s probably been the best summer yet, since Dave went to heaven three years ago. Lydia and I are doing well, praise God!

sunflower

With August just around the corner, our month is already filling up. Lydia has a little camp to attend with a friend; we have a visitor coming for a few days; and we have a host of other fun activities.

However, I’ve been somewhat relaxed most of July, having spent 2+ weeks traveling. So, I purposely postponed a few tasks and projects in favor of keeping things simple. I’m not really procrastinating, just focusing on different things for a change. It feels good!

Clearly, God has done a good work in me! In years past, I would have stressed about it. Now, instead of worrying, I’ve just decided to go with it! That’s grace! (And a lot more fun!)

I’ll get back to my normal routine in the coming days.

Meanwhile, here are five benefits of taking a break (or road trip, whatever). 😉

Psalm 29_11

More Rest: This may seem obvious, but we all need rest physically. On my last trip, I slept for 8 hours five days in a row. That’s the longest 8-hour streak I have had in…years! Also, my exercise routine is usually different when I travel. But even if I stay home on a rest day, my activity patterns are still laid-back.

More Relaxation: For me, this is mental. My best thinking and problem-solving comes when I am relaxed. Enjoying a different mental pace frees me up to think about other important things. My body may be hiking, canoeing or swimming, but my mind is on its own adventure! I love when my imagination kicks in and I can explore creative solutions. In fact, it’s a necessity to have a little time (traveling or not) each week to just chill and think clearly.

Less Stress: Cue the release of emotional burdens! We don’t need to carry the weight of our emotional stress. Yet, sometimes we fail to recognize the load on our shoulders. By taking time away, we can leave behind overwhelm, fear, worry, anger, etc. Sometimes, a little distance is all we need to realize we need to make different choices or move on. Stepping away for a little break may bring temporary relief or permanent changes.

Clear Perspective: When we take a break, we can also gain spiritual clarity. We can see the bigger picture, instead of focusing on our present circumstances. During a vacation from our problems, we can see what is really important. Perhaps God wants to provide direction or show us something new. He longs to answer our prayers, but we risk missing Him altogether when we don’t take time to listen. When we slow down, we can hear His Voice in the peace and quiet.

Increased Growth: In addition to new ideas and perspectives, taking time to explore can lead to growth in skills, knowledge, and even relationships. Find what inspires you to live a full life. Make memories with those you love, and meet new friends. Seek new challenges and put away your should-do list.

fishing and rest

I made a confession last week. Here’s another: Often, I don’t realize how much I need a break until I am actually taking one! It is becoming clear to me that I cannot afford to neglect breaks. When I regularly schedule rest, my overall outlook improves.

Psalm 23:2 says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.” Yes, it may be challenging to take time away. But it is so important! Life is short…let God have your worries and take a break! 

Or, as I wrote earlier this year, take the trip you have been putting off.

If you are feeling tired and worn out…relax! Consider options for a daily break, a weekly escape, a monthly getaway, and/or a yearly retreat. Even if you stay home, explore your local surroundings. Try new foods, new parks, new entertainment. Be creative!

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Father God, thank You for blessing us with rest. Thank You for restoring us in the peace and quiet. Help us seek Your grace and Your pace each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: Have you taken any trips lately? How can you build more rest and relaxation into your life?

The 12-Hour Turnaround

It is amazing what rejuvenation can come from a get-away. Lydia and I spent almost a week in Illinois, while we visited family and a few friends. It was just the ‘reset’ I needed.

Usually, we drive there and back in two days, stopping overnight each time. This adds a couple extra days to our trip—which is fun, but not always feasible. So, this time, we drove for twelve hours all in one day to Illinois and then the same road trip back to Fargo.

Now we have taken this route numerous times in nearly six years. And we have done the long all-day trek several times too. But this time was different.

sunrise from car

On this road trip, I needed a major turnaround. Yes, an attitude readjustment!

It could’ve been related to not sleeping well the night before. Perhaps it was the sense of leaving family and comfort behind. Maybe there were other factors too—like postponing breakfast—but I was in a funky mood at the beginning of the trip!

It was still dark as we started out. After a little while, Lydia fell back asleep. As I listened to her soft snoring, I started to reflect upon all we were driving back toward (in Fargo). There’s nothing like a little distance to give you some perspective!

Before, on the way to Illinois, we were driving toward family. But, as we drove back to Fargo, there was a void. I also realized as the third-year mark of Dave’s death approaches, we have been making these trips without him longer than with him.

I continued thinking about lessons learned, how many things have changed. Lydia has grown so much! Also, at least eight families—much of our support system—have moved away for various reasons. Though, God has been faithful to provide new friends and a wonderful drop-in daycare!

Other aspects of our lives are fairly steady. I’ve taken huge leaps forward, yet I feel there is still so much to do. Sometimes it is overwhelming. Though we love calling Fargo home—and have no plans to move—it has not been without challenges.

As we made our way North, I turned on the radio. I have a SiriusXM subscription which is awesome for traveling. I don’t use it often in Fargo, but on Monday, I was thankful for the encouraging words on The Message (Channel 63).

With God-focused songs, like Trust in You by Lauren Daigle, I knew I needed to give all my fears and frustrations to God. When I fear, I forget God’s faithfulness. But, the truth is, the Lord has been so, so good to me. He is kind, generous, and trustworthy. I don’t have to worry, because the He is in charge of all the details.

two arrows

As the hours rolled by, Lydia and I sang and talked. As I feasted on God’s grace and truth, a weight lifted. The closer we got to Fargo, the more light-hearted I became. Soon I was confident, hopeful, and trusting God again. What a relief knowing I don’t walk this path alone!

God continually gives me opportunities to trust Him at a deeper level. Oddly enough, I found new motivation to make some changes I previously resisted. My resistance is not on purpose, but I can be stubborn!

Being stuck in my car, I was open-minded to make changes regarding my daily routine. It’s funny how sitting in the car all day makes me want to switch up my exercise plan! 😉 Now, I have a renewed vision for Fargo and am excited to see all the Lord has in store!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

Following God is not always comfortable or easy. But, it is so worth it. God is for me not against me. He gently redirects me when I get off track. I can trust Him because He loves me so much!

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Father God, thanks for Your unrelenting grace and love. Thanks for never giving up on me. Lord, I need You—I cannot make it on my own. Help me trust You more and more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: What are your favorite music tunes for the car? Has God ever changed your heart during a road trip?

For When You’re Exhausted

Did you know over seventy countries participate in Daylight Savings Time? Still, that’s less than forty percent of the countries in the world. And, each country has their own ways of using this time change—some do it before or after we do in the United States.

With a few exceptions, most Americans will be changing their clocks this weekend. So consider this your friendly reminder to ‘spring forward’ one hour! Otherwise you will show up to work or church an hour late. (You’re welcome!) 🙂

alarm-clock

While it is wonderful to have more daylight, the time change messes with our sleeping patterns. While we really only lose one hour on one day, it takes a little while to adjust. Kids get up an hour earlier, which can upset morning and evening routines. Also, there are increased health risks associated with the time change and the lack of sleep overall.

It’s no surprise that several studies have shown we need more sleep than we are getting. Like many other people, I often stay up late and get up early, still trying to run the entire solar system. Remember, S.T.R.E.S.S.?? It’s a hard habit to break!

After a little nudge from the Lord, my primary goal for the year is to… get more sleep. Like a minimum of seven hours on most nights. I know, I’m living on the edge! That’s still not enough; however, I am working on daily progress. And now that I am getting more shuteye, I certainly notice when I average closer to five or six hours.

Getting more sleep means…less wakeful hours…and thus, less time to accomplish tasks. So, I am trusting God to help me use my time wisely and accomplish all He has for me to do.

Yes, this means turning off the lights when I still feel the need to do something! It’s a struggle because I like to check things of my to-do list. For example, I often have to postpone household chores… 😉 But who really cares about dusting, anyway?!

Mainly, I aim for a more consistent bedtime routine, and swapping stimulating activities (ie. electronics) with more quiet tasks like reading books (another personal goal). But I am still learning what works best.

Often, it comes down to realizing I am wasting time or am no longer productive. Just last night, I almost got sucked into an online article about ‘secrets’ to help you sleep better. Awesome! But then I thought, “Um, I could actually just go to sleep!”

iphones

Going to bed earlier has its perks—like actually waking up rested and unhurried. But maybe the time change doesn’t affect you this weekend. Even if you just have trouble waking up or going to bed at a certain time, here are some helpful Bible verses to consider:

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3).

“Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you” (Psalm 25:4-5).

“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 59:16).

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life” (Psalm 143:8).

sunrise

“It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know He enjoys
giving rest to those He loves?” (Psalm 127:2).

Dear reader, God does not want us to be exhausted. Let’s rest and trust Him to help us make wise and healthy choices all throughout the day.

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Father God, thanks for Your steadfast love. Your mercies are new every morning. Teach me to number my days. Help me use my time wisely and trust You more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you struggle with getting adequate sleep? What is one change you could make in your routine? Do you have any other helpful key Scriptures to share?