All I Can Do

Lately, I have had the honor of praying for a variety of people. These prayer requests include everything from relationship issues, health problems, job uncertainty, financial strain, parenting difficulties, big decisions, relief from natural disasters, and more.

I’m glad to pray for others and share their burdens in practical ways. But as I consider these needs, along with my own, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. On my own, I am totally inadequate to handle them all. Thank God for Jesus!

I don’t need fancy words or impressive deeds for Jesus to answer my prayers. He eagerly waits to hear from each of us because He loves us so much!

When life is just too much to handle on my own, I need Jesus.
The converse is also true: When life is going well, I need Jesus.

 Sometimes, all I can do is draw close to Jesus. Anytime I need help, I can lean on the Lord, my Rock. He is my strong tower so I run to Him. When I don’t know what else to do…sometimes, that’s all I can do.

When I fall, I know He will catch me. When I humbly surrender everything to Jesus, He lifts be back up–better than before. The good news is that Jesus readily offers His grace and truth, strength and joy, mercy and forgiveness. He is so good!

Whatever I am facing—bad or good—I can bring it to Jesus. When I leave the issue in His hands, I can rest and pray, listen and obey.  He is mighty to save.

I can choose to trust God over my feelings. I can choose joy and gratitude over fear and self-doubt. I can choose to stand in Victory instead of living defeated. He is the Wonderful Counselor and the Prince of Peace!

I can choose to forgive myself and others, leaving the past where it belongs. With God’s abundant grace, I can move forward in faith. He is more than enough for me.

Yes, I can cling to Jesus, knowing He will never leave me on my own. I can also ask for wisdom, clarity, and courage. Really, that’s the least I can do.

Praise God, I don’t have to beg or grovel for help. Jesus is right here with me! He longs to do for me what I cannot do for myself. But, I do have to choose to let Him help me.

Yes, the Lord is my refuge, my strength, my righteousness, and my defense.
I wholeheartedly trust in His unfailing love. Indeed, that’s the best thing I can do!

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Heavenly Father, thank You for hearing us when we pray. With you, nothing is impossible. Help us listen and obey as You work through us. You are so good, Lord. Refresh us with Your sweet grace and love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Are you trying to meet your own needs or are you asking the Lord for help?

Tasks: Meditate on Psalm 59:17.

On Tying Shoes and Learning New Skills

Lydia has already grown so much this year, both in height and skills. She has lost her first two teeth and has grown almost three inches in six months. Even more exciting, Lydia has grown into her larger bike and no longer needs the smaller one from last summer!

Lydia recently asked me to teach her how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was a little messy even with supervision, but I’m glad it cultivated independence. She’ll need more practice before I let her do it completely alone!

Lydia sometimes enjoys doing chores around the house, too. She likes helping with laundry, garbage, and dishes. Like any kid, her enthusiasm comes and goes. 🙂

This week, we’ve been focusing on tying shoes. I asked Lydia a few months ago and decided she wasn’t ready. “No thanks, Mom. Maybe another time.” But now she has grown into a pair of sparkly tennis shoes so she is eager to wear them!

As I am teaching her, I’ve been remembering when I learned to tie my shoes! I learned differently than I am teaching her. Nonetheless, I think the new way is a little easier.

Sometimes, we’ve both been frustrated. She’ll get upset when she can’t make the ‘bunny ears’ and I don’t like to watch her struggle. But I’m resisting helping her too much.

So, I’ve decided to have her practice about ten minutes a day and then let it go. If she wants to do more, great. Overall, it’s been a positive experience as we celebrate her small wins!

Even though I am watching Lydia struggle, I know she will appreciate the freedom it brings. It will also help her in the near future when she starts school again.

It might take a lot of practice, but in the long-term, the struggle is worth it.

With each new level of independence or growth, we all have new challenges to overcome. These challenges can be good or bad, depending on how you look at them.

Each challenge brings an opportunity to learn. What causes one person to struggle, may be simple for someone else. How one person learns is likely different from the way someone else learns. In the end, though, it’s rewarding to see someone learn and grow!

In Jesus Christ, we have a perfect example to follow. By His grace, we can come to Him for help and direction. He is a wonderful Teacher! Ask Him to teach you how to get to the next level. He knows exactly you need.

I’m glad God teaches each of us according to our unique purpose. Some of the lessons may be more difficult to learn than others. A loving Father, He is so proud of us for trying! Obedience is key, but there’s an abundance of grace!

God is not limited by our challenges, but uses them to help us grow. Thankfully, we are never left on our own to just “figure it out” as we go. The Lord is right beside us, cheering us on. He’s only a question (or prayer) away.

God’s timing is perfect. He never asks us to do something without teaching and equipping us to do the work. He wants us to succeed and live in Victory!

With God, all things are possible. He is patient with us as we practice, learn, and grow. He does not expect perfection and is gracious when we need a do-over. Thank You, Jesus!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for Your grace. Lord, teach me Your ways and guide me in Your Truth. Give us courage as I live for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What is something the Lord is teaching you right now? Is it difficult or fairly easy? (Hopefully, it will become better with practice!)

Tasks: Take the first step in faith and obedience today! Pray and then do what God is asking You to do. He will be with You! 🙂

On the Right Track

Right now I have a strong sense of peace. I have many activities and projects waiting for me… But I am enjoying the quiet. I can easily become overwhelmed by all I have to do…

But when I choose to stop and just enjoy the Lord’s presence, all the chaos subsides. None of that seems important as I rest in Him. I’m thankful for the peace He brings!

This week, I am celebrating small answers to prayer. Despite all of my own effort—working hard to get results—God kindly reminded me that He is faithful. I don’t have to worry or stress because He will never let me down.

In fact, God gave me peace through a simple conversation. Someone confirmed that I was on the right track, just by listening to my concerns and giving me some feedback. The words I heard matched what was already on my heart through prayer.

As soon as that happened, I felt the Lord’s assurance that He has it all under control. He is the one who brings my breakthrough(s)! I can trust Him for His timing.

When He wants me to do something differently, He will make it clear. He always comes through for me! In the meanwhile, I don’t need to try to do it all on my own or figure it out.

There is great freedom in understanding God’s grace. I know He loves me know matter what. His love is not based on what I do, but who I am. I don’t have to compare myself to anyone—there is no one like me! He has made me unique and loves me just for being me.

Currently, there is a small stack of dishes in the sink and I just remembered there is still laundry in the dryer, waiting for another round. I need to go through the mail and clear off the dining room table. But all of those tasks will get done soon enough.

With Jesus, there is no rush. He refreshes me with His love and grace. Somehow, I always have the right amount of time to finish what needs to be done.

In the quiet, I have been thinking of all the ways God loves me. In addition to His protection and provision, I can see how He has helped me in the past. Whether it was related to family, friends, college, jobs, or making decisions, He always worked things out in His time. He has never left me on my own.

Over the years, I’ve had to learn to conserve my energy for certain tasks and let others go (or come back to them later). Grief is like that. Parenthood is like that! Instead of being frustrated with uncompleted tasks, I am learning the ebb and flow of resting in the Lord.

Instead of worrying about unanswered or unsolved problems, I can trust Jesus. When the Lord moves, I move. When He rests, I rest, too. When He says to make plans, I plan. When He says to wait, I wait. He always leads me to Victory!

Yes, staying in-step with Jesus is what matters most. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. His timing is perfect. He always comes through…He is faithful!

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Jesus, thanks for being my Shepherd. Thanks for leading me with grace. Refresh me with Your presence. Help me draw near to You. In Your Name, Amen.

Questions: Do you find it easy or difficult to stay in-step with Jesus? What does that look like for you? Are there any changes you need to make?

Tasks: Memorize Psalm 23.

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.

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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.

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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!

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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?!’”

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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.

Tater Tots and Training Wheels

Lately, Lydia has been taking beginner swimming lessons. She already feels over-confident, yet doesn’t realize the safety belt keeps her afloat! “See, I know how to swim!” Her sense of independence has carried over to other areas, too.

Perhaps it’s part of growing up…but the last few weeks have been tough on me as a parent! On several occasions, I’ve needed an extra-large dose of God’s grace to stand firm with discipline. More than once, I’ve lost my patience and needed a parenting pep-talk!

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There have been genuine—but mislead—moments of helping me with household tasks. Lydia was proud of herself but spilled water everywhere. I’m glad she’s learning…but each time she ‘helps,’ it requires a time-consuming clean-up!

There have been full-blown meltdowns too. We’ve had personality ‘power plays’ and other issues. However normal, I could do without the whining and tears!

So, I have reinforced the importance of listening and first-time obedience. We’ve talked about boundaries and respect, forgiveness and grace. It’s an hourly process at times.

I know ALL parents go through these challenges. Most kids do similar things…indeed it’s a little funny, hearing my mom’s familiar voice coming out of my own mouth:

“I love you too much to let you act that way!”

Still, we’ve had some really good moments too. I’ve given and received extra attention, hugs, and “I love you’s.” When I point out what is going well, Lydia beams.

Yes, I am thankful for my smart, healthy, spunky, and beautiful girl. I’m keenly aware some people would give anything to have children…but for some reason cannot.

Let me not take this child or this season for granted.

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Father’s Day is coming up. In the past, I’ve had Lydia send notes or pictures to her grandpas and uncles. Now she’s old enough to realize that her Daddy is not here to celebrate. But, we are not alone. We have a great support system, near and far.

Also, God has been with us the entire time. He loves Lydia even more than I do. What’s more, He promises to be a father to Lydia (Psalm 68:5). True to His Word, He’s graciously placed many wonderful men in our lives. Besides grandpas and uncles, we also have great friends and neighbors who influence Lydia for good.

I appreciate the men who have stomped in mud puddles, played ball, and taught Lydia new things. A few brave guys have let her paint their nails! They have read to Lydia, given her piggy back rides, and made pictures with sidewalk chalk.

I’m amused at the difference between how men and women handle kids. My “mom-friends” are amazing, but surely, I can learn a few tricks from the men!

painting toenails

Last weekend, I tried to feed Lydia dinner before going outside. She, however, was eager to play with one of the neighbor girls… “I’m not hungry, Mom.” Soon, I got a text from the little girl’s dad: “Can Lydia have some deer sausage?” He was grilling out for his family that evening. In addition to two helpings of sausage, Lydia enjoyed tater tots and a popsicle! 😀

A few days before, we visited other friends, who live across the street. Their little boy was learning to ride his bike without training wheels. He did really well, with some coaching from his dad! I have no idea how I am going to teach Lydia to do this… But after talking with my neighbors, I’m sure this dad would gladly help Lydia learn how to ride her bike too.

Tater tots and training wheels? Yes, please!

bike with training wheels

Clearly, I’m not an expert on parenting. 🙂 Thus, I need the help of those around me and the insight of those ahead of me. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. But I can be present, persistent, and praying for wisdom.

I’m always looking for good resources. Recently, I’ve been using, Praying the Scriptures for Your Children, by Jodie Berndt and Personality Plus for Parents, by Florence Littauer. Great books! Also, I found this podcast helpful!

Parenting is certainly a challenging job, but God will help us accomplish it. When difficulties come, let’s stand firm and work enthusiastically, knowing that nothing we do for the Lord is useless (1 Corinthians 15:58)!

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Heavenly Father, thank You for this precious child You’ve given me. Thanks for providing encouragement and reinforcements on this parenting journey. Please give me Your wisdom and grace every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Questions: What are your favorite parenting resources? For those of you with older/grown kids…Do you have any nuggets of wisdom or funny stories to share?!

Do You Feel Lucky?!

Do you feel lucky? (Well, do ya, Punk?!) 😉

Tomorrow is March 17th —Saint Patrick’s Day—so remember to wear your green!

I happen to have a little Irish blood on my dad’s side, but many people celebrate even if they’re not Irish. There are so many fun traditions and folklore!

Here’s a picture of Lydia’s first St. Patrick’s Day several years ago. This was a couple months before Dave got sick. Lydia wasn’t even sitting up yet!

Lydia's first St Patrick's Day

Luck is a term we use casually to wish someone well, in the sense of good fortune or success: “Good luck with your presentation today!” Or, it can be used in the negative sense of ‘bad luck’ usually associated with an accident. Occasionally, you’ll even see a sarcastic eye-roll as in, “Yeah…good luck with that!”

Recently, there was an incident that could’ve had a big impact on my finances. I received a message about a fraudulent charge on my debit card. I was concerned because I had just looked at my account ten minutes prior to the call. I hadn’t noticed anything suspicious, so was a little freaked out. I immediately hung up and notified my bank.

Sure enough, someone in Rhode Island spent over $100 at a gas station with my information! I have never been to Rhode Island, and have no idea how that happened!

Needless to say, I am now waiting for a new debit card because my other account was closed. While it’s somewhat inconvenient, I don’t really mind considering the alternative. I was thankful for my bank and the quick response.

Some people might consider me lucky. “Whew, you’re lucky that worked out!” However, I did not feel lucky—I felt LOVED.
I was grateful for God’s grace that covered the situation. He not only provides for me—He protects me, too. Thank You, Jesus, for looking out for me!

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to leave my life up to accident, luck, lottery, chance, or coincidence. It is dangerous to have my safety, security, and success hinged on something completely unreliable. So what should we do instead?

TRUST GOD. He is Jehovah Jireh, my Provider. His Name shows His character and faithfulness. God is limitless and is more than able to meet our genuine needs. He is generous to give us what we desire too.

Note: For the most part, God is not into instant gratification. Most often we find we have to wait. But as we wait, God refines our desires to and prepares our hearts to receive His best.

Waiting is not passive. It includes praising God, learning more about Him, and being obedient in the present. Waiting grows hope and cultivates patience (see Psalm 37:7). When our focus is on God, not on the stuff we want, our attitude is right.

OBEY. God rewards obediencedoing what He asks us to do. Sometimes, we get rewarded with a promotion at work, or a something new and shiny…sure. But God is not a genie! Our temporary ‘happiness’ is not His utmost goal. Becoming more like His Son, Jesus, carries eternal significance (see Galatians 5:22-23).

PRAY. God loves it when we come to Him. He cares about every detail in our lives! It may take awhile to see the answer—keep praying. God will come through for you. It’s a privilege to pray for others, too. What a blessing to be part of what God is doing for someone else!

Whether God answers YES, NO, or WAIT, be thankful. He says NO on our behalf, so we can say YES to His best. Trust Him; do what He says to do; and keep praying.

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“God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection” (Psalm 18:30). That’s better than winning the lottery!

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Father God, thanks for Your protection. You meet our needs and fill our lives with goodness! Help us to walk in obedience as You faithfully lead us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: How does it feel to know the ‘odds’ are 100% that God hears and answers your prayers? Is it difficult to trust God with the answer, or do you truly leave it up to Him?

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!) 🙂

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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!”

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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).

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“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?

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?