A Cop-Out or A Call-Out

You’ve probably heard the following adage: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I’ve also heard our past can make us bitter or better. So, it seems to me that there are two ways to look at all of our past trials and how they prepare us for the future.

I can choose between fear and faith.

Regarding cancer and Dave’s death…

Fear could say something like: “Well, that was terrible! How many more awful things am I going to have to endure? What’s coming next? Woe is me!” As you might guess, it could quickly turn into a downward spiral…

Thankfully, I kicked fear to the curb long ago.

Instead, I choose to see all I’ve gone through with eyes of faith.

Faith says, “Wow, that was rough! But look how God brought me through! I’m still standing! God won’t waste my pain… I can’t wait to see how He uses this for His glory and my good!”

Fear points out all the problems in my life—the cannots, the impossibilities. Fear rejects outside help, reinforcing that I am all alone in my struggle.

Faith points me to Jesus—with whom nothing is impossible. Faith accepts His power and grace—with Him, I can do all things!

Fear keeps me from moving forward, saying “maybe later.” Fear hinders growth.

Faith unlocks courage, never-ending potential, and adventure. As I pursue new possibilities, I am empowered. The joy of the Lord is my strength!

Fear reminds me of everything I am not. Faith repeats what God says, who I am in Christ.

Fear is crippling, but faith makes me hold my head high with confidence—not in my abilities, but in His.

Fear is often rose-colored glasses, remembering what was. Faith acknowledges the pain and grief, yet clings to Jesus for what can and will be.

Fear can be a cop-out and brings condemnation. Faith calls me out and requires grit.

Fear gives up easily, due to exhaustion and worry. Fear never sees a reward or goodness.

Faith takes endurance, yet yields expectation and wonder. Faith pays off in the end.

Fear is subtle. I never realized its hold on me—until all my worst fears came true.

Fear is not from God. Yet, He used those terrible experiences to teach me that I don’t have to choose fear. Jesus set me free with His unfailing love and grace!

My Victory did not come easy. It was a tough lesson to learn. Indeed, I have suffered major losses with long-term impact. I’m grateful nonetheless.

“See, God has come to save me.
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
The Lord God is my strength and my song;
he has given me victory.” (Isaiah 12:2)

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Heavenly Father, thank You for the Victory we have in Jesus! Thank You that we don’t have to live in fear. Forgive us for our unbelief and help us walk in faith. Help us trust you for good things ahead! In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Which do you tend to choose most often: Fear or faith? Are there some changes you need to make?

Tasks: Don’t be afraid! Our past challenges and present circumstances do not disqualify us from a good future. Jesus makes all things new! He forgives us and gives us new opportunities. Choose faith!

Writing Reflections

This past weekend, I went to my first writers conference. The conference was held in St. Paul, MN, which is about 4 hours from Fargo. I arrived on Friday afternoon for the Saturday conference, then spent another night before returning home Sunday afternoon.

In order to attend the conference, however, I needed help with Lydia. Childcare is perhaps my biggest challenge as a single mom. Often, I have to make up my mind to do something, and then figure out how I am going to make it work with Lydia.

This is true for conferences, parties, appointments, concerts, certain church meetings, etc. Many times, I just decide the event is not worth the hassle of figuring out child care. But, if I do choose to attend, I trust the Lord to help me make it work.

This weekend, my family came to the rescue! They trekked several hours to meet us in the Twin Cities. Then, they took Lydia to explore the Cities while I was at the all-day conference. Lydia was glad to have grandparents, aunts, and uncles all to herself!

I was grateful for their help…Lydia was grateful to go to Mall of America!

At the conference, I saw several agents, acquisition editors, and publishers. I heard them speak at workshops and at a panel luncheon. I have followed some of them over the years, so it was a really cool experience to see them in the hallway, like any other person!

While I’m not currently ready to publish anything specific, the conference itself was a good confirmation that I am on the right track with meeting my goals. Thank You, Jesus!

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the conference was that I didn’t have to explain that I am a writer. You might be thinking, “Well duh, you were at a writers conference!” But it’s common for writers to deal with self-doubt.

In the past, seeing myself as a writer was a challenge. So, I prayerfully invested in a couple online programs and learned to see myself in a new way. Consistent blogging has been helpful, too. Just putting myself “out there” has boosted my confidence in writing.

I’ve come to see writing as a means to document my journey and reflections on life, what God is doing, and how I interact with others. Writing helps me learn more about myself and the world around me.

This past weekend, it was great to ask people what they are writing or answer questions about my own projects. Just having taking people take me at ‘face value’ was refreshing. Even if I didn’t have anything to “show” that day.

In the past, I might have gotten stuck or discouraged. But to my great relief, I was able to see just how much I’ve grown! Praise God!

Our Heavenly Father is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He knows how our stories end, because He sees the end from the beginning of time. In fact, our own stories are wrapped up in His larger story. So, we can trust Him as He leads us!

As we read His word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, God shows us who He is…and who we are, too. We just have to read it and embrace what He says.

The more time we spend with Jesus, the more we understand about ourselves. It’s a great investment of our time, and by His grace, He calls us like He sees us!

We are saved. We are forgiven. We are free. We are chosen. We are loved. We are redeemed. We have new purpose. We are called. We are empowered. We are His.

Perhaps you don’t enjoy writing… Maybe God wants you to do something different…like stay home with your kids, go back to school, volunteer, change your diet, forgive someone, or introduce yourself to a neighbor. It can be scary to put yourself “out there.” I know.

But ultimately, we have to make a choice to trust. Jesus is faithful and more than able to get us where we need to be. We just have to take the first step.

With His unfailing love and support, how can we fail? Let’s see ourselves like He does and cooperate with Him. We can’t go wrong! And who knows, maybe soon, you will be doing something you never thought was possible!

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God, thank You for putting Your dreams within our hearts. Thanks for walking with us along the way, giving us guidance. Help us see ourselves as You do. Help us be brave! In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you have a dream that seems impossible? How can you trust God and take the first step?

Tasks: Write down all the reasons your dream seems unachievable. Then, write a Bible verse next to each reason, such as Philippians 1:6 or Philippians 4:13. As you pray through each verse, redirect your focus on Jesus and trust Him to help you!

Calling Out the Good

Yesterday afternoon, Lydia and her classmates put on a spring program showcasing some of what they have learned this year. They sang several songs, recited a Bible verse, and acted out the story of David and Goliath. It was really cute!

At the end, the teachers handed out “character awards” to each student. Some of the traits recognized included exhibiting joy, kindfulness, cheerfulness, responsibility, originality, and a positive attitude.

Lydia was one of the last to be called forward, and I didn’t know what to expect for her. Though, I was pleasantly surprised when she received an award for HELPFULNESS.

I thought to myself, “Of course! She is so much like her dad.” Dave was known for his servant heart; he was always eager to help others. I love seeing that in Lydia!

After the show, we briefly discussed being helpful as we ate refreshments. When we were done, Lydia jumped up to help me clear the table. Then, we ran to get gas and groceries before heading home.

Later, Lydia eagerly helped me carry in the groceries and put them away (as best she could). “Here, Mom, I can help you!” Then, we made dinner together.

Lydia set the table and emptied the clean dishes from the dishwasher. “Is there anything else I can do for you, Mom?” I then had to come up with activities to keep her busy while I finished cooking. This involved cleaning her room and picking up her toys.

Just before we ate, Lydia helped stir and dish up some of the food. “Hey Mom, these are like chores! And, I can earn money to give Jesus for missions!” Lydia was quite proud of her revelation. I was quite proud of her giving heart.

In case you are wondering, Yesterday’s excitement and helpfulness are not quite the norm for us. Many days, having a good attitude and doing chores looks very different!

Still, I was amazed at how much a simple award, or any acknowledgement calling out the good, could inspire Lydia to action. All on her own, she felt called to another level of helpfulness. The impact grew as the night went on.

As I was considering all of this, I thought about the times I have experienced something similar. When someone takes the time to say thanks or recognize a good quality, I too, step it up and do more.

We often focus on our individual effort to make a difference around us. “What can I do to help??” But I believe we can have even greater impact by cheering each other on as we go! Together everyone achieves more, right?!

God has given each of His children special gifts. Those gifts are not meant to be kept for ourselves, but to build each other up and show His love to the world. Of course, we don’t serve to get something in return. But, we are happiest when we are helping others.

Indeed, there are times when we all feel down. That’s fairly normal. In those moments, we may feel disconnected from our purpose, our passion, or even our people. Each problem may need a special solution. (I recommend prayer first!)

In many cases, asking for help and reaching out to help others can change our perspective. Part of the key is remembering we are not alone. We are all connected and need a sense of belonging. As Lydia says, “It’s great to be a team because we can help each other!”

In this dark and chaotic world, we should call out the good when we see it. A little appreciation brings a boost of confidence and sense of connection. Even just one word of encouragement can prompt someone else to take action and make a positive difference!

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Heavenly Father, You are good! Thanks for letting us join You in Your work. May we see the good around us and call it out. May we help others in their time of need and show people Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: When was the last time someone called out the good in you? What was your response?

Tasks: Read Ecclesiastes 4:10 and Galatians 6:9. Choose at least one person to encourage!

7 Steps to Making Wise Decisions

It’s only January, but so far I have already made some big decisions that will have impact on the rest of the year. It has been fun to see all the possibilities! But it can also be challenging with all the unknowns. I don’t like a lot of risk!

Of course, in a perfect world, I would love to know all the details and have all my plans figured out in advance. But for me, that’s where faith comes in!

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1, NLT). In the midst of Life’s uncertainties, we can trust God’s plan.

God already sees the end from the beginning. His plan for you is GOOD and He’s given you everything you need to follow that plan. Yes, He’s got you covered!

Those who know me well would say I am a thorough decision-maker and planner. But some choices are worth more than others. And at times, I have two options that appear equally beneficial. Occasionally, I have the luxury of putting off a decision; I can delay making a choice until I have more details.

While that stability is great overall, it can also make me slow to make changes. Sometimes big decisions won’t wait that long! My ‘strength’ can become a weakness when I really should jump… instead of stall!

Thankfully, I have several steps to help me decide faster when I need to!

It’s not a formula, but it does help me avoid regret!

1.     First, I pray for wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it! I picked up this phrase from a friend, but I like the dual purpose. I usually remember to pray for wisdom, but sometimes I can still be afraid to do what I need to do. I cannot make wise decisions if I am not seeking the Lord. At the same time, I cannot move forward without courage. More often than not, this means doing it afraid!

2.     Next, I make a pros and cons list. This seems obvious, but once I get all the information down on paper, it stops swirling around in my head. As the fog of indecision lifts, I gain clarity on what really matters.

3.     Then, I consider my feelings and motivations. While I can’t make decisions based on feelings alone, I do gather input. Am I excited about this opportunity? Do I feel strongly that it is important? Why do I want to do this?

4.     Taking it one step further, I separate my passion from my feelings. Each of us was born for a unique, God-given mission. Our passion can point us in the right direction. That doesn’t mean it is easy, however! In fact, it can be tempting to give up or walk away when challenges come. The danger is that we may not fulfill God’s call on our lives. Often, those tough moments are what God uses to refine us. So, I discern whether I need to stick with the commitment…and lay aside my feelings…or forgive someone…or make other changes. If God leads me to something, I can trust Him for the next steps in His timing. I don’t want to quit when God wants me to stay and grow!

5.     I also review some lessons learned from Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best Yes. In brief, this includes counting the personal cost. Do I have the time, resources, and energy for this? How will it affect my family and other commitments? (and much more!)

6.     I consider the long-term impact of my choice. How will I feel about this in 6 months? 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? (You get the idea.) If we are not careful, we might make decisions too quickly without considering the sustainability of the choice.

7.     Last but certainly not least, I seek wise counsel. When weighing every option is too much for me on my own, I need help. This is NOT rehashing my problems with everyone I meet. This is intentional discussion with those who love me enough to tell me the Truth. I present the facts, concerns, pros and cons to those I trust so they can give me feedback. Typically I ask for input from godly people who are older and wiser (or, someone who has been through something similar). I regularly ask my parents, aunts/uncles, pastors, and other friends who have insight to share.

For me, many of these steps are fluid. I may go back and forth between them until I have peace. If I don’t have peace, I hold off until I do. This has saved me so many times!

Praise God…Jesus is the Prince of Peace!

Then, I sit back and have confidence. I know I gave it my best shot. And, if for any reason I was wrong, God still has my back. It might be a learning experience or a blessing in disguise. He will work it out for my good and His glory!

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Father God, thank You for grace and love! Thank You for providing peace and joy as we serve You. Please give us courage as we make wise decisions, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: How do you make decisions? Do you have anything to add to the list above?

Task: Identify one or two trusted friends or advisors the next time you make a big decision!

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?!’”

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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!

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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.

Try, Try Again!

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? Three weeks into January, how are you doing?

While I don’t make resolutions, I enjoy setting goals and making plans.
When it comes to developing good habits, I would rather make simple changes that add up over time. I like to see progress and like the flexibility to alter goals as needed.

There is no problem with setting goals and making plans in general. Yet, I’ve realized that I can attempt to control too many outcomes, including others’ reactions. Have you been there too? Ultimately, this causes a lot of stress and can actually hinder progress.

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For example, this winter I signed Lydia up for ice skating lessons. I thought it was a great idea and would teach her valuable skills. Lydia never requested the lessons (ahem), but I wanted her to try it out and learn. We do live on the Minnesota border after all!

I hoped Lydia would learn to enjoy ice skating as much as I do. We signed up for a six week parent-tot class, where I go out on the ice with Lydia. My main goal was that she would try her best. If she had fun or was good at it, that would be a bonus.

Well, we’re a few weeks into it and things have not gone according to my plan. A few days ago, Lydia flat-out refused to get on the ice. In fact, she stubbornly sat in the bleachers and wouldn’t budge. I couldn’t move her without causing a scene, though she is typically more compliant.

I’d say that Lydia takes after Dave, but nobody would ever believe me! 😉

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I didn’t expect perfection, I just wanted her to try!

I finally convinced Lydia to try again after sitting through the entire class. I might’ve threatened to eat her leftover pizza if she didn’t get on the ice. At any rate, she was motivated for the last thirty seconds of class. She skated out as the other kids came in.

Trust me, I did not earn any parenting awards that day!

Then last night, we went to the class again. This time I left all expectations at the door. I was prepared to sit and watch, if needed. I resolved to coach instead of coax. I remained positive and encouraged Lydia at her own pace. She fell several times, yet by God’s grace, she tried her best and did great. We had fun and each learned a few new skills.

I was so proud of Lydia! I realized if I push my plan (aka “You will do this and enjoy it!”), she could grow to hate ice skating. When I backed off and relaxed, we made much more progress. Lydia was able to relax and was proud of herself, too.

ice skating

You know, in my own stubbornness, sometimes I try to do the same thing with God. In my impatience, I can get ahead of God and try to do His part. Or, I prefer my goals and plan to His. I get caught up in my own expectations, and leave no wiggle room for what God wants to do on my behalf.

Thankfully, the Lord doesn’t just let me skate by! Sometimes, I need to sit and watch what He is doing. Sometimes, I have an active role. Many times, I’m the one needing the lesson!

When Life doesn’t go as planned, we can change goals and alter our expectations. When we persevere and don’t give up, God is faithful to direct us where we need to go.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

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Father God, thank You for being patient with me when I am stubborn. I am a slow learner at times. Thank You for grace and do-overs. Your plan is far better than mine! Help me do my best. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: Are you stubborn too? 🙂 What is something you are learning lately?

2015 Favorite Posts

Hello! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends!

This year, I’ve challenged myself to do new things and keep moving forward. It’s been an amazing journey while seeking God’s sweet and refreshing grace. His love never fails.

To wrap up 2015, here is an index to some of my favorite posts.

Enjoy these posts, and I will see you next week…in 2016! 🙂

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1)From Ordinary to Extraordinary

(My first published blog post helped set the stage for our life now.)

2)What I Learned from a Cup of Milk

(A parenting insight during a meltdown from a few years ago.)

3)Grace and Ice Cream

(I wanted to take Lydia for ice cream, but she was throwing a fit.)

4)Father Knows Best

(A little story about God’s perfect timing as we continue moving forward.)

5)A Road Trip, Relaxation and Pie

(I love pie and beautiful views!)

6)Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

(One of the biggest lessons I learned in our cancer journey; this is where it all started.)

7)Favorite Nancy!

(Who doesn’t have a favorite Nancy?!)

8)Tomatoes and Better Days Ahead

(A poor, neglected tomato plant brought me tremendous hope during a dark time.)

9)Put on Your Pants!

(On procrastination and just doing what we are supposed to do!)

10)God’s Grace and Glory in Wyoming

(Another road trip with beautiful scenery and great friends…)

11)On Rivendell and Rest

(For LOTR fans, a great parallel on finding rest in God.)

12)Race Toward Grace!

(Going into the new year, let’s race toward grace!)

13)Got Stress? Get Grace!

(For all the times when we are still trying to run the entire solar system…)

14)The Significance of Our Stories

(This one has a video link at the bottom. God still works in the midst of our difficult stories.)

15)A Preschool Pick-Me-Up

(My most popular post thus far. My little one set me straight!)

16)Tidings of Comfort and Joy

(God brings us comfort during our trials and joy in our pain. Praise God!)

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Well, that’s it for now. Thanks for reading!

“The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

 

 

 

Telephone Lines and Grace Connections

Do you remember the game, Telephone? I whisper a message to someone who tells it to the next person. And on it goes until the last person repeats the message. Generally, what happens is the message gets all mixed-up and comes out funny. Or rude!

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876. Telephones then became instrumental in connecting people via technology innovation. Do you think Mr. Bell envisioned all of our communication and technological advancements since then?

I wonder if we have really made all that much progress…

You see, our communication can still be shaky. I’ll speak only for myself—I don’t always say the right thing. I can lose my temper and say things I regret. Then I catch myself, apologize, and do better. But that’s no excuse for my poor behavior.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “ Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (my emphasis added).

Can you hear me now?

Telephone lines

People are like telephone poles, and grace is sent between the poles. Standing alone—not connected—they’re useless. Telephone poles need to be linked together, one after another, until the message gets transmitted.

What is the message we need to share? Good News! Pass it on!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

If a telephone pole or line goes down, the connection is lost. So it is with the message of God’s grace. Our words have potential to disconnect the very people God wants to reach. Or, we can speak with loving grace—connect others to Jesus!

No, I’m not going to make you eat soap, nor will I provide a list of “appropriate” words. Instead, let us simply extend a line of grace and carry the loving message of Jesus Christ!

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Grace can come in many forms and kind deeds, but our words carry special weight (see Proverbs 18:21). We’ve probably all had something negative said to us or about us. That hurts, and the impact can be devastating. Often, those in close proximity can do the worse damage. Yet, the effect doesn’t remain localized. It influences the whole pathway.

The words we speak to ourselves are just as important as words spoken to each other.

Have you experienced the power of an encouraging word when you needed it the most? I’ve had several moments in the last few years where the path was unclear. It has been difficult at times to see progress or know if I need to make changes.

Over time, I’ve had the opportunity to share my story with new people at church. I also invite them to a class I facilitate, which helps volunteers get involved. Once, during a prolonged period of uncertainty, someone introduced me like this:

“This is Natalie. She does a great job in her role, and we are so thankful for her.”

It was not fancy or elaborate, but I was encouraged to know I was making a difference! Before that, I wasn’t even aware of the effect of my effort.

Even six months later, I remembered those empowering words. In fact, my whole outlook changed as I suddenly had more clarity in my vision and purpose.

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“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”   Proverbs 16:24

Let nothing interrupt the flow of grace in your life.

 Do not miss an opportunity to be an ENCOURAGER to someone else. Look for the inherent value in others. Use your words to speak Life with a well-timed word!

Got Stress? Get Grace!

As I looked for a good tie-in to today’s post, I immediately loved this acronym:

S.T.R.E.S.S. = Still Trying to Run the Entire Solar System

Now, I could tell you all the reasons why my week was stressful. This would include a conference, a deadline, tech difficulties, and a cranky child. I’m sure you understand.

Yet, they might just be good excuses. We all know Life happens. It’s easy to complain.

I could also offer advice on how I met these challenges. I’d share how I took a nap, took a walk…and took some chocolate. I’d recommend arranging for childcare, using a crockpot for easy meals, and rescheduling certain activities for another time. All good things!

(I’ll leave out the perfectionism and procrastination part…I’m sure that wasn’t related.) 😉

But you see, in my tiny little solar system, it can’t be all about me, what I want or know. I can’t even decide what to have for breakfast…so I am totally inadequate to run the show.

So I’ll keep trusting in God, the Creator of the Universe. He is excellent at dealing with stressful events. And, He is an ever-present Help in time of need!

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
He who watches over you will not slumber.”

–Psalm 121:1-3

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Let’s take a moment to clarify and renew our minds with God’s word. We can overlook important details or connections when we feel overwhelmed.

Isaiah 26:3 says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.” If you don’t have peace, try realigning your focus.

Often we get stressed because we feel responsible for end-results—as if success depends on us. It is useless to depend on our own fleeting energy instead of God’s everlasting strength.

If God started something good in you, He will be faithful to complete it (see Philippians 1:6).

Both perfectionism and procrastination can yield stress. But the root is fear. In the chaos of our emotions, we can lose sight of the vision and purpose God has given us.

So, remind yourself of God’s constant love. We don’t have to be afraid!

Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

God blesses obedience, and He has equipped us to do what He has called us to do (see Ephesians 2:10). If we’re trying to do more than that, it’s no wonder we are stressed.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Lord God, I praise you! You spoke out Your Word, and created the heavens and the earth. Nothing is too difficult for you! You do all things well. When I am overwhelmed, help me seek You first. I want to do it Your way. Give me wisdom to know what to do, and the courage to do it. Thank You for Your abundant grace. In Jesus’ Mighty Name, Amen.

Questions: What are your best techniques for handling stress? Do you have a favorite Bible verse that you find helpful?